A JUDGE has slammed sentencing guidelines.
He said he was forced to give a car thief a paltry sentence – despite the driver going the wrong way down a dual carriageway at more than 100mph before causing a horrific head-on crash.
James Ramsden was already banned from driving when he put dozens of lives at risk, speeding through oncoming traffic in a stolen car before smashing into another vehicle seriously injuring another driver.
Police said it was “a miracle” nobody was killed in the accident which happened on the A64 at York, and were shocked by Ramsden’s lack of remorse.
But the Recorder of York Judge Stephen Ashurst was able to jail him for only a fraction of the time he could have got had someone died, saying his hands were ‘very much tied’ by sentencing guidelines.
Unless dangerous driving results in a death, the maximum sentence is two years.
Ramsden, 25, of Upper Barker Street, Liversedge, was given a four-month reduction for pleading guilty, but was given additional sentences for other offences.
Jailing Ramsden for two years and nine months, Judge Ashurst told him: “Someone guilty of driving, sometimes in a very much less dangerous way than you, who happens to be in an accident that kills someone, is at risk of a sentence of 14 years.”
Dozens of motorists were put in danger in the incident which ended when Ramsden smashed head-on into a Toyota, York Crown Court heard.
Graham Bell, the Toyota driver, from York, spent 11 days in hospital, and has yet to return to work.
Ramsden had gone the wrong way through the one-way system at York Designer Outlet before reaching 109mph as he drove west on the eastbound carriageway of the A64, in a new Vauxhall Insignia stolen from an acquaintance’s home.
Police tracked him from the opposite carriageway, with blue lights flashing and sirens blaring, but Ramsden made V-signs at them before smashing head-on into the Toyota.
When Ramsden was told an air ambulance was coming, he thought it was for him rather than Mr Bell, and when interviewed by police showed more interest in CDs left in the car than his victim’s injuries.
Judge Ashurst told Ramsden: “Your driving was quite ludicrous. At every turn you demonstrated yourself to be arrogant, selfish and irresponsible.”
He jailed Ramsden for a year and eight months for the dangerous driving, plus four months for driving while disqualified, and a further nine months for car theft. He also banned him from driving for seven years. Ramsden pleaded guilty to car theft, dangerous driving and driving while banned and without insurance. He had finished a 16-week sentence passed in April for car crime.
Detective Constable Alan Williams said: “It was a miracle no one died. The most shocking thing is his complete lack of remorse.”
For Ramsden, Graham Parkin said his only mitigation was his guilty plea. He had broken both his ankles in the crash.