Family of partners killed by bus in Romford ‘disappointed’ with ‘lenient’ sentence

Todd outside Barkingside Magistrates' Court

Todd outside Barkingside Magistrates' Court - Credit: Archant

A judge asked the families of two men killed after being hit by a bus in Romford town centre to put themselves in the place of the driver and “thank God” it has never happened to them.

Flowers at the scene of the crash in Western road

Flowers at the scene of the crash in Western road - Credit: Archant

Judge William Kennedy sentenced Robert Todd, of Redden Court Road, Harold Wood, to two-and-a-half years’ jail on Friday last week after insisting he must receive “punishment” for hitting and killing civil partners Henry Keller and Colin Hicks.

But the victims’ families were left “disappointed” with the “lenient” sentence as death by dangerous driving can carry up to 14 years imprisonment per count in the most serious cases.

The judge told the families of Mr Keller and Mr Hicks, both 66: “All those who drive: look in the mirror, tell me if you ever got to the end of the road and wondered what happened in the last 150 yards. Thank God in that 150 yards nothing dreadful happened.

“If anyone tells me that that’s never happened to them I will tell them I don’t believe them.”

Todd, 67, whose family sat opposite the relatives of the dead men, admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

David White and James Bowdidge, both of Hamlet Court Road, Southend-on-Sea, were friends with the deceased couple for more than 30 years. They spoke to the Recorder on behalf of the victims’ family.

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Mr White, 73, said: “All of the family are massively disappointed about the sentence – it’s so lenient.The driver will be out in society in 15 months and they have got to see that person free. The victims’ friends and family have a life sentence.

“And it’s just a three-year ban. Another thing that’s gut-wrenching is he’s not been fined for the offences and it wasn’t a question of whether he could [pay] it.”

Mr Bowdidge, 57, added: “They were so happy together, they had a very good life and had recently retired. They were looking forward to doing everything together.

“I don’t think, other than the people who knew them, anybody realises how tragic the situation is. They were going to spend the rest of their lives doing what they wanted to do and it was snatched away from them.”

Judge Kennedy also banned Todd from driving for years and handed him a £120 victim surcharge that must be imposed by law.

Mr White said: “It’s a petty £120 on two people’s lives. It’s crazy.

“That’s just two speeding fines basically.”

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