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Finally, I've got justice for what she did to my Amy

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 31, 2012

  • The Court of Appeal has more than doubled the sentence previously handed down to Leanne Burnell, right, for her involvement in the death of Taunton teenager Amy Hofmeister, above

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A road safety campaigner says she finally feels justice has been brought against those responsible for her daughter's death, after a successful bid to increase one driver's prison term.

Last week three Court of Appeal judges agreed to more than double the sentence previously handed down to 21-year-old Leanne Burnell, after saying the jail term she initially received for causing death by dangerous driving was "unduly lenient".

Burnell was originally handed an 18-month sentence at Taunton Crown Court in July, but this was increased to three-and-a-half years last week in London, after the judges reviewed her involvement in the death of teenager Amy Hofmeister.

Now, the 13-year-old's mother, Jane Hofmeister, has said she has finally honoured the promise made to her daughter after the crash on Blackbrook Way in Taunton, Somerset.

Ms Hofmeister said: "From the moment Amy was killed and I held her in my arms – she was already gone – but I promised her: 'Mummy will get justice and sort this.'

"I was so bitterly disappointed in July (when Burnell was first sentenced), I wanted the maximum sentence the law could provide.

"On a personal level I wanted life. Life for a life. But realistically I knew I couldn't get that with what she was charged with.

"I wanted a sentence that matched the category with which she was charged, and now, finally, I feel that I have got that, and justice for my daughter."

Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division, sitting in London at the Court of Appeal with Lord Justice Kitchin and Mrs Justice Cox, described it as a "terrible tragedy", which must have had a "devastating impact" on Amy's family.

She died during a chase between Burnell and her now ex-boyfriend Leonard Jones after they left a pub in separate cars.

They were driving through Taunton town centre at more than twice the 30mph speed limit on June 15, 2011.

Jones, 42, struck the schoolgirl, who was out cycling with a friend, after overtaking Burnell. His car overturned and mounted the pavement. Taunton Crown Court later heard the pair were playing a game of "cat and mouse", which involved driving down bus lanes, overtaking, and reaching speeds of up to 80mph, according to witnesses.

He admitted causing Amy's death by dangerous driving and was jailed for seven years.

Burnell denied the same charge, but was convicted after a trial.

Sir John, announcing the decision of the court, said: "There can be little doubt that the underlying cause of what happened was her (Burnell's) decision to begin the chase."

Ms Hofmeister said she felt Burnell showed "no remorse" for her involvement in Amy's death, and said her fight to increase the prison sentence was partly to "teach her a lesson".

She added: "Hopefully this will also send a message out to people about the effects of drink-driving, and the terrible consequences of getting behind the wheel after a drink."

Ms Hofmeister, 47, has set up the Think Amy charity in her daughter's memory, which aims to promote road safety and help victims of serious collisions. Supporters include celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

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  • Tony248  |  October 31 2012, 11:15AM

    At three and a half years it it STILL unduly lenient. If anytrhing other than a motor vehicle had been the instrument which caused death, a much longer sentence would and should have resulted. She should have got at least the seven years which the man received. Why is there this sex discrimination in sentencing??

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