The family of a young woman mown down by ‘the drunkest driver a police officer had ever seen’ are launching a bid to have her hit and run killer’s ‘lenient’ eight-year jail sentence increased.
Nature-loving Fenella Hawes, 20, was carrying sunflowers to give to her mother Margaret when a car driven by Malcolm Waite mounted a pavement and hit her.
The student was declared dead at the scene, despite desperate efforts to save her after the collision in Stalham, Norfolk on July 31 this year.
Fenella Hawes, 20, (pictured right) was killed when drunken Malcolm Waite mounted the pavement with his car. Her family are now appealing for his sentence of eight years to be increased
Retired computer engineer Waite, 68, was jailed for eight years, despite being described by the arresting officer as ‘the drunkest person I have ever seen behind the wheel of a car.’
Waite was nearly five times over the drink drive limit and had a bottle of vodka in the car with him when he came to a halt having crashed into a tree, more than a mile down the road.
Now Fenella’s family are pushing the Attorney General for Waite’s sentence to be increased as they do not believe it reflects the full severity of his crime.
Her elder sister Rosie, a 27-year-old dental nurse, told MailOnline: ‘Waite did plead guilty and received credit for that when it came to sentencing, but we still don’t think the sentence took into account all the factors.’
Offenders receive a reduction in sentence of up to one third in return for pleading guilty.
Retired computer engineer Waite, 68, was jailed for eight years, despite being described by the arresting officer as ‘the drunkest person I have ever seen behind the wheel of a car.’ Pictured: Police bodycam footage of Waite as he was arrested
The law was changed the month before Fenella’s death, increasing the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years’ imprisonment to life.
Mother-of-two Rosie added: ‘We as a family were shocked by the sentence, especially after the law was changed.
‘Bearing in mind how much alcohol was in his system, the fact he didn’t stop and the loss to our family, we think it should have been more.
‘We’re a very close-knit family and she was the light of all our lives, and now she’s been taken away from us.’
A Change.org petition has so far attracted nearly 4,000 signatures.
‘We want to reach as many people as possible and share my sisters’ story, in the hope this increases his sentence and deters other people from drink driving,’ said Rosie.
Fenella and Rosie’s mother Margaret gave the court a moving victim impact statement when Waite was sentenced, saying she ‘sobs every day’ at the loss of her daughter, a promising student who had been taking Natural Sciences at Lancaster University and was set to go to Honduras on a trip she had been awarded a bursary for.
Police officers arresting Waite (pictured) said: ‘He was the drunkest driver I’ve ever seen’
‘I sob because she was so happy: she was so lovely inside and out, she was so alive and now she isn’t here, and never will be again. I never had a chance to say goodbye,’ Mrs Hawes said in a victim impact statement.
A 16-year-old girl who was walking with her was also hit, but escaped with cuts and bruises in the crash on the A149 road in broad daylight.
Waite of Hoveton, Norfolk, admitted causing death by dangerous driving at Norwich Crown Court. He was also banned from driving for seven years.
The court heard how he did not stop after hitting Fenella. He carried on driving his Lexus RX SUV for another mile and only came to a stop when he collided with a road sign, trees and shrubbery.
Officers found him sitting in the driver’s seat, and smelling strongly of alcohol with a half-drunk bottle of vodka beside him.
Nature-loving Fenella Hawes, 20, (pictured) was carrying sunflowers to give to her mother Margaret when a car driven by Malcolm Waite mounted a pavement and hit her
Footage from a bodycam worn by one officer showed him slurring his words and falsely accusing the policeman of having sworn at him.
PC Callum Walchester, who arrested Waite at the scene, said: ‘I’ve been a PC for 10 years and worked in roads policing for almost six years, and he was the drunkest person I have ever seen behind the wheel of a car.’
Waite refused to provide a breath test before being arrested and taken to James Paget Hospital near Great Yarmouth.
Four hours later, a test showed he had 120 mcgs of alcohol in his breath.
Officers calculated this would have been around 158 mcgs if taken at the roadside after the crash. The legal limit is 35 mcgs.
The police investigation found that Waite’s vehicle was not faulty, and the weather and road conditions were clear and fine.
The court heard how Fenella and the teenager were walking home after work when they were hit by Waite after witnesses saw his car veer across the road.
Fenella, who had been taking Natural Sciences at Lancaster University, was granted a posthumous first class degree by her university following the tragedy
Mrs Hawes described the loss of her daughter in her statement, saying: ‘Every day I sob, when I wake up, throughout the day at random times with seemingly no reason and when I go to bed at night.
‘I sob because I will never see Fenella again, I will never see her radiant smile or hear her laugh, I will never talk with her about her day or about her plans for the future, I will never help cheer her up when she is sad or gossip with her, I will never go on long walks with her again I will never be able to sit with her in front of our fire it will never be the same again.
‘I picture her walking along, so happy carrying sunflowers for me and then being hit by the car.
‘I sob for the future that she doesn’t have because a drunken man chose to get into a car, knowing that this was a weapon that could kill someone, and indeed it did. It killed my 20-year-old daughter.
‘She was a young adult beginning er life and her bright future was taken out in a few seconds because of someone who did not think or did not care.’
Fenella was granted a posthumous first class degree by her university following the tragedy.
Her family issued an earlier tribute at the time of her death saying she would ‘be greatly missed by all those who knew and loved her’.
Their statement added: ‘She made our world a better place with her vivacious spirit and lit up our lives with her laughter and quirky sense of humour.
‘She could not walk past a cat without stopping for a photo shoot and was looking forward to going to the cat cafe with her boyfriend.
‘Her love of the environment and nature was shown in her enjoyment of local walks in woods, the beach and lately in The Lakes.
‘She was a successful student and had completed two years studying Natural Sciences at university and had a trip to Honduras, funded through a bursary that she had been awarded, planned for the future.’