09/12/2003

Minister announces new car crime measures

The Government today unveiled a package of proposals to crack down on car crime in Northern Ireland.

Included in the new measures will be the introduction of a new law which would allow the courts to sentence so-called 'joyriders' for up to 14 years.

Criminal Justice Minister, John Spellar aims to have the new offences of aggravated vehicle taking and causing death by aggravated vehicle taking on the statute book before Parliament rises for the summer recess.

Commenting on the new measures, Mr Spellar said; "I will be introducing two new offences, aggravated vehicle taking and causing death by aggravated vehicle taking, to specifically target and punish so called 'joy-riders' in Northern Ireland.

"With these new offences, we are sending a clear message that this crime is unacceptable both to the Government and to the community.

"These offences will carry appropriately tough new penalties and in cases where an offender has caused death, this could mean a sentence as high as fourteen years. I will also be increasing the maximum penalty for dangerous driving from two to five years."

Turning to other developments in road traffic law in Northern Ireland, the Minister said said, "January 2004 will see penalties for causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving through drink and drugs increased.

"The maximum penalty for both of these offences will be increased from ten to fourteen years through the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

"Combined with the increased penalties for these other very serious offences, I believe these new measures will have a significant and positive impact and will be welcomed throughout the Community."

Tougher sentences will also be introduced next month for causing death by dangerous driving or careless driving, as part of the Government's overall commitment to driving down car crime.

(MB)

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