10:14am Wednesday 9th May 2012
By Rene Gerryts
THE family of tragic Tash Samways have called for a change in the law to stop youngsters driving fast, powerful cars but also condemned the length of his sentence.
Bridport man James Stephen Marshall Griffiths, 22, was found guilty of causing Tash’s death by dangerous driving after a trial Dorchester Crown Court.
Griffiths, of Jessopp’s Avenue, Bridport, was sentenced to four and a half years after crashing his BMW on the coast road near Langton Herring in January last year. He was also banned from driving for five years.
Tash was 17 when she was killed.
Her stepmother Lil Sweet said her and Tash’s father Colin would never forget the teenager or be able to come to terms with her death and they want to see the law changed.
Mrs Sweet said: “This hasn’t brought us any closure.
“I don’t think it ever will. It is like a life sentence for us.
“Her friends are finding it really hard. She was particularly able to touch people and that is part of the reason it has been so difficult.”
Mr and Mrs Sweet said that they felt four and a half years wasn’t long enough but also called for a change in the law.
Mrs Sweet said: “I really think the law with these kids with these cars should change.
“They should not be allowed to drive big, fast cars as soon as they have passed their test.
“They haven’t got the experience of driving and they just think they are invincible.”
Although Griffiths got a custodial sentence, Tash’s family don’t think it was long enough.
Mrs Sweet added: “A bloke who drove his lorry into a house got longer and there was that Arron Marshall who got eight years for stabbing and that didn’t cause death.”
Tash’s father Colin Sweet said he was angry at the length of sentence imposed for the offence after Griffiths ‘took away my angel’.
He added: “Where’s the justice in the law for killing somebody?”
He added: “He took away my angel.”
Mr and Mrs Sweet said they wanted to thank Dorset Police and everybody involved in the case for their efforts and their family and friends, as well as Tash’s friends, for the support they had received.
UPON sentencing Griffiths, Judge Roger Jarvis told him: “It is plain that you were considerably in excess of a safe speed and the jury have found that you were driving dangerously.
“It is important that drivers, particularly young male drivers, really understand their responsibility when they are at the wheel of a car.
“The consequences here are both tragic and appalling and there is a price to pay and you have to pay it.”
Before Griffiths was sentenced the court heard of the devastating effect the death of Miss Samways had upon her family.
In victim impact statements read out by prosecutor Charles Gabb she was described as a ‘special young lady’ who 'touched the hearts of everyone who knew her'.
In the first statement Miss Samways’s father Mr Sweet said his family’s ‘world fell apart’ the night his beloved daughter died.
He said: “Our lives changed forever, we were no longer a happy family, it ripped us all apart.”
Miss Samways’ stepmother Lil Sweet said: “She was a very special young lady and we all loved her very much.”
Her brother Ashley added: “I had not only lost a sister, I had lost my best friend.”
David Lyons, representing Griffiths at court, said that his client had himself suffered physically as a result of the crash – which left him with a broken neck – as well as emotionally, and was now being treated for depression.
He added: “He specifically instructs me to express to the family of the deceased his profound regret and remorse.”
ST SWITHUN’S church team vicar Father Peter Edwards said his thoughts were with Tash’s family.
Fr Edwards, who gave the service at Tash’s funeral, said: “It was a tragedy for all concerned, particularly the friends and family.
“I think it is a warning to a lot of young people about their responsibility on the road.
“Her family in particular continue to be hugely affected by Tash’s death.
“Tash was a very bright, very outgoing, attractive personality and she continues to be a big absence in her friend’s lives.
“Her particular group of friends are continuing to find it quite difficult well over a year after her death.
“I hope that this can in a way bring some closure and they can get on with their lives.”
Father Edwards is continuing to offer the family any pastoral support they want."
THE outpourings of grief continue on Tash Samway’s memorial page on Facebook and a sense that there has been a long wait for justice.
Emma-Louise Buller said: “It’s been too long waiting for justice, let’s hope we get it for you.”
And Danny Murphy said: “Justice at last.”
Sophie Lisa Marie Tew added: “At least after this week you can hopeful finally rest in peace... keep shining beautiful...you’ll never be forgotten! Not a chance.”
Mostly the comments are full of expressions of love and sorrow not least from Tash’s dad Colin Sweet whose short line written after the court case just says: “Miss you so much my baby girl. Love you.”
Friend Nicky Carr said: “Time’s going on and things are changing but one thing that never changes is how much everyone that knows you misses you. You had a big impact on everyone's lives, you always knew how to brighten everyone's day.
“Thinking of u always. Shine bright angel miss u millions angel.”
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