Killer driver jailed for nine months – victim’s family say ‘it’s a joke’

Dean Laing

Dean Laing

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A GRIEVING family has hit out at the sentence handed down to a killer hit-and-run driver.

Pantelimon Iordache was jailed for nine months for killing 37-year-old Dean Laing as he walked along Claypath towards his home in Gilesgate, Durham City.

Family and friends, including Mr Laing’s partner Louise Blenkinsopp, 45, from Seaham, gasped in the public gallery of Durham Crown Court as sentence was passed.

Dean’s uncle, Michael Winter said afterwards: “Nine months for taking a life is not justice, it’s a joke.

“We’ve been told the maximum is five years, which we understand.

“But what do you have to do to get near that – stop the car and reverse over the victim a few times?”

The court heard Mr Laing was walking on the nearside of Claypath beside a line of parked cars when he was struck from behind by Iordache’s Vauxhall Astra.

David Wilkinson, prosecuting, said: “A taxi driver coming down Claypath witnessed what happened.

“He said he saw the Astra travelling faster than it should in the 30mph limit, maybe 40mph or 50mph.

“The nearside of the car struck Mr Laing, knocking him into the air and on to the windscreen, which was smashed by the impact.

“The car stopped for a second and then drove off. Another witness saw it travelling at speed on the A660 towards Carrville.”

Iordache, 37, of South View, Bearpark, Durham City, admitted causing death by careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident, both on November 10.

David Callan, defending, said in mitigation: “The victim was about three times over the drink drive limit and was walking in the road, rather than on the pavement.

“Mr Iordache is a Romanian national who is in this country legally and is a hard-working man.

“He did try to evade responsibility to begin with, but the author of the probation report accepts his remorse is now genuine.”

The Recorder, Mr Simon Brown QC, jailed Iordache for nine months.

The recorder said: “I am obliged to adhere to the sentencing guidelines which suggest a starting point for this case of 12 months in custody.

“I have to allow some credit for the guilty plea, although I’ve not allowed full credit because the defendant initially refused to own up to what he had done.”

Iordache was banned form driving for 18 months and must pay a £100 victim surcharge after his release from prison.

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