Grieving Washington mother meets Minister for Justice as driver who killed her son set to be released after just five months

'He was an innocent child who had his life taken away and I won’t stop until I get justice'
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Grieving mother Alison Rudkin met with the Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk, in her quest to “get justice” for her son Gregg McGuire who was tragically killed by speeding driver Kayn Galer on on August 14, 2022.

Galer was sentenced to nine months in a young offenders institution in July 2023, and is due to be released this December, having served just half his sentence.

Alison said: “Justice hasn’t been done.

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"Last Christmas we sat around our kitchen table after visiting Gregg’s grave. The only consolation we had was that we thought this year Galer will be in prison and won’t get to spend it with his family and it’s shocking to think he will now be able to do this.

“He’s going to be out for Christmas, his birthday, Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day - all milestones which Gregg won’t get to see.

“Gregg lost his life because of Galer and so what punishment has he had? 

“To me it feels like he has got away with it and the sentence is an insult to Gregg and us, his family.”

(Left to right) Sergeant Robert Lowery, Alison Rudkin, Daniel Dunbar and MP Sharon Hodgson ahead of their meeting with the Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk.(Left to right) Sergeant Robert Lowery, Alison Rudkin, Daniel Dunbar and MP Sharon Hodgson ahead of their meeting with the Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk.
(Left to right) Sergeant Robert Lowery, Alison Rudkin, Daniel Dunbar and MP Sharon Hodgson ahead of their meeting with the Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk.
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The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court in June this year.

The case was covered by the Echo and reports said the Court heard how Galer, 20, of Pinewood Avenue, Harraton, was seen "flying along" the 30mph Silverstone Road in Washington, before he hit Gregg, who was cycling to a sleepover.

The 13-year-old, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered catastrophic head injuries, including skull fractures, and died in hospital two days later.

The Court heard how Galer braked before he hit Gregg but was still going at between 20-29mph on impact.

Gregg Lewis McGuire.Gregg Lewis McGuire.
Gregg Lewis McGuire.
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After the impact, Galer, who was also uninsured, drove away with a shattered windscreen that left him with virtually "zero" visibility, at up to 56mph and on the wrong side of the road for a time, although he did return to the scene “minutes later”.

Galer eventually pleaded guilty to and was convicted of death by careless driving, which, unlike death by dangerous driving, does not have the right of appeal by the victim's family under the Unduly Lenient Sentencing Scheme. 

This was the key question raised by Alison with Mr Chalk.

She said: “When we found out we couldn’t appeal the sentence, we felt like we had nowhere to go. I spoke with Mr Chalk about this and asked him if he could look into including careless driving cases as part of the scheme.

“If Galer had been given a longer sentence he could have appealed this so surely the victims' families should have the same rights as the offender.

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“It’s not going to stop Galer getting out, but I don’t want other families to have to go through this in the future.”

With death by careless driving carrying the maximum sentence of five years, Alison has also been left "annoyed and confused" as to why Galer only got nine months and has again raised a number of issues with Mr Chalk.

She said: “My understanding is the minimum sentence was supposed to be one year and so I really don’t understand the mitigation as to why Galer only got nine months.

“He was also found guilty of driving without insurance and failing to stop after an accident.

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“The judge who did the sentencing was different to the judge who heard the case and this is something I raised with the minister as I feel having the same judge who has been present throughout the hearing will have  a better understanding of the case. 

“I also don’t understand why the whole of my victim statement wasn’t read out in court.

“Mr Chalk didn’t make any promises, but he did say he would review some of the notes from the sentencing and case.”

The meeting with the Minister for Justice and and Lord Chancellor was arranged following Mr Chalk receiving a letter from MP for Washington and Sunderland West, Sharon Hodgson, citing what she described as “a remarkably lenient sentence”.

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Mrs Hodgson has also raised the matter during discussions in Parliament.

In the letter Mrs Hodgson stated: “This (the sentence) is where the concerns of Gregg’s family, and my own concerns, arise. This is, in a manner evident to all who hear of it, a remarkably lenient sentence for a criminal act that resulted in the death of a child. 

“The sentencing judge himself referred to this leniency in his closing statements to the court.

“Especially relating to the aggravating factors of the case which include Galer as an uninsured driver who was known to local police as a hazardous presence on the road following his receipt of two section 59 notices in the weeks preceding the tragedy.

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“I also note from further research, that careless driving is exempt from appeal under the unduly lenient sentence scheme. This has left the family of Gregg very little choice in their endeavour for justice, which we believe this lenient sentence fails to deliver.

“As such, I request the opportunity of a meeting with you to discuss the potential for future reforms to the sentencing guidelines for careless driving.”

Mrs Hodgson also attended the meeting with Gregg’s stepfather Daniel Dunbar and Sergeant Raymond Lowery from Northumbria Police, who led the investigation.

Following the meeting she said: “Today’s meeting with the Lord Chancellor was positive. He listened attentively to Alison, Daniel and Sergeant Lowery and displayed a great level of empathy and understanding. 

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“While the Lord Chancellor is unable to change Galer’s sentence or the right to appeal under the Unduly Lenient Scheme he did request to see the opening prosecution statement and sentencing remarks made by the judge so he could review them. 

“The Lord Chancellor also offered his deepest condolences to Alison and Daniel and promised to follow up with me after reviewing the documents he requested.”

This week, Mrs Hodgson once again raised Gregg’s case during Justice Questions in Parliament and the need for consideration of the Unduly Lenient Sentencing Scheme to be broadened to include cases of death by careless driving.

During the discussion the Under-Secretary of State for Sentencing, Gareth Bacon, agreed to meet with the Attorney General to “discuss this further”.

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After returning from Parliament, Alison said: I'm grateful for the Minister for Justice agreeing to meet me, but I’m never going to stop telling Gregg’s story.

"He was an innocent child who had his life taken away. I won’t stop until I get justice.”

Gregg's family have also set up an online petition asking for support to increase sentencing powers for death by careless driving. 100,000 signatures are needed for the issue to be considered for discussion in Parliament.