Monmouth family's fury at ‘joke’ sentence for 128mph death crash driver

JAILED: Richard Bentham caused a high-speed crash in which Dr Graham Howells was killed

KILLED: Dr Graham Howells of Monmouth

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by

THE family of a Monmouth professor killed in a high-speed crash branded the two-year sentence given to the driver responsible as “a joke”.

The family of Dr Graham Howells said they were “absolutely disgusted” with the sentence handed to Richard Bentham at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday, calling it “too lenient”. Bentham admitted driving at 128mph before the collision.

Dr Howells, 67, was driving his camper van along the A449 near Usk on October 15 last year when Bentham’s white BMW 320 coupé crashed into the back of his vehicle.

The camper van left the road and collided with a large road sign. Dr Howells was pronounced dead at the scene.

The court heard that Bentham, 22, of The Vineyard, Monmouth, was speeding at around 90mph at the time of the collision.

He admitted “showing off” to his friend, passenger Matthew Tweedle, earlier in the journey, telling police he “floored” down the dip in the road and peaked at 128mph before putting cruise control on.

Bentham said: “I felt completely safe because I know the road so well.”

He said he could have driven along the road “blindfolded” and had never before tested the higher speed of the car.

Prosecutor Christopher Rees said Bentham, who pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, initially lied to the police, saying he was driving at the speed limit and that the camper van’s lights were not on. But Mr Rees said the camper van was well lit and in good working order.

He said Dr Howells maintained a speed of between 51 and 54mph and that Bentham was in fact driving at an overall average of 96mph.

Bentham has previous offences for speeding and for using a mobile phone while driving, but tests on him for alcohol and drugs proved negative.

Patrick Harrington, QC, defending Bentham, said his client was genuinely remorseful and that the “showing off” ended prior to the collision.

The Recorder of Cardiff, Eleri Rees, QC, said the camper van would have been in Bentham’s view 25 seconds prior to impact and that there was no obvious reason why he failed to see it.

Bentham was sentenced to two years in prison and will be released on licence after serving half of that.

He was also disqualified from driving for four years.

Professor much loved and respected

DR GRAHAM Howells spent October 15 last year with his family watching rugby and celebrating the birthdays of son Graham and daughter Martha.

He was described as a loving father and grandfather and ‘had much affection and respect from around the world’. He had lectured at Cardiff and Swansea universities and was a professor of English at the University of Brasilia.

Dr Howells had been travelling around Europe in the camper van with his partner of 16 years, Rejane Xavier, and was due to return to Brazil last November.

Son Graham De Gama Howells said: “He (Bentham) will be able to rebuild his life in 12 months’ time.

“But our dad will still be dead.”

Daughter Martha added the sentence was “a joke” and “too lenient”.

Comments (13)

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10:10am Wed 14 Nov 12

rhinestine says...

This is disgusting! The world is full of show off know it all's like Bentham, you only have to look at him to see he is a pompous and arrogant. He had previous for speeding and the worst road crime, driving while on a phone.

Did not learn his lesson from previous convictions and has now killed a very gifted man.

Is there no justice in this country?, 2 years for a life is cheap, and I bet he will be out in a year.

The family have every right to be angry, we need a big change in the UK to deal with criminals harshly.

Condolences to the family.
This is disgusting! The world is full of show off know it all's like Bentham, you only have to look at him to see he is a pompous and arrogant. He had previous for speeding and the worst road crime, driving while on a phone. Did not learn his lesson from previous convictions and has now killed a very gifted man. Is there no justice in this country?, 2 years for a life is cheap, and I bet he will be out in a year. The family have every right to be angry, we need a big change in the UK to deal with criminals harshly. Condolences to the family. rhinestine
  • Score: 0

11:28am Wed 14 Nov 12

denlexx3 says...

money talking again you got a few bob you can get away with anything bet he'll do about 6 months if hes unlucky it stinks
money talking again you got a few bob you can get away with anything bet he'll do about 6 months if hes unlucky it stinks denlexx3
  • Score: 0

4:04pm Wed 14 Nov 12

youngashie says...

Once again a complete idiot gets an extremely light sentence for causing the death of an innocent person it often makes me wonder if the judges in cases of this kind are being bribed to hand down such inappropriate sentences.
Once again a complete idiot gets an extremely light sentence for causing the death of an innocent person it often makes me wonder if the judges in cases of this kind are being bribed to hand down such inappropriate sentences. youngashie
  • Score: 0

5:51pm Wed 14 Nov 12

rover100rich says...

http://www.cps.gov.u
k/legal/s_to_u/sente
ncing_manual/death_b
y_dangerous_driving/


it appears as though he got the very minimum possible
http://www.cps.gov.u k/legal/s_to_u/sente ncing_manual/death_b y_dangerous_driving/ it appears as though he got the very minimum possible rover100rich
  • Score: 0

5:58pm Wed 14 Nov 12

rover100rich says...

check out his facebook page , go on
check out his facebook page , go on rover100rich
  • Score: 0

7:07pm Wed 14 Nov 12

Limestonecowboy says...

Wonder what arrogant Bentham has achieved in his life. This is a guy who tried to blame the innocent dead victim for the crash. Sick man.
Wonder what arrogant Bentham has achieved in his life. This is a guy who tried to blame the innocent dead victim for the crash. Sick man. Limestonecowboy
  • Score: 0

9:18pm Wed 14 Nov 12

rightsideup says...

I presume the prosecution will appeal this ridiculous sentence.
The punishment in no way reflects the crime.
I presume the prosecution will appeal this ridiculous sentence. The punishment in no way reflects the crime. rightsideup
  • Score: 0

9:59pm Wed 14 Nov 12

emlynkide says...

what can i say, its all been said.
what can i say, its all been said. emlynkide
  • Score: 0

10:26pm Wed 14 Nov 12

guidayz says...

I have to agree with the family ...this is just a totally ridiculous sentence ..and goes no way to punishing the person for his ridiculous driving...sadly it is just another sign of the weakness of the judiciary in the UK..they do not punish or set punishments that create a deterrent to others from doing the same crime...we all these days suffer from the terrible driving of others who are temperamentally unsuited to being given the right to drive..just today two idiots overtook me on the Severn Bridge nose to tail doing at least 90 where one small error would lead to a major pile up ..I expect if they got caught they would not even get a fine and will go on driving like this until they too kill someone...Can the person in Wales responsible for justice refer this case to appeal as soon as possible
I have to agree with the family ...this is just a totally ridiculous sentence ..and goes no way to punishing the person for his ridiculous driving...sadly it is just another sign of the weakness of the judiciary in the UK..they do not punish or set punishments that create a deterrent to others from doing the same crime...we all these days suffer from the terrible driving of others who are temperamentally unsuited to being given the right to drive..just today two idiots overtook me on the Severn Bridge nose to tail doing at least 90 where one small error would lead to a major pile up ..I expect if they got caught they would not even get a fine and will go on driving like this until they too kill someone...Can the person in Wales responsible for justice refer this case to appeal as soon as possible guidayz
  • Score: 0

11:52pm Wed 14 Nov 12

jimmysmith says...

this piece of dirt should have recieved the maximum sentence .the sentencing judge should be removed from office this is disgusting
this piece of dirt should have recieved the maximum sentence .the sentencing judge should be removed from office this is disgusting jimmysmith
  • Score: 0

12:03am Thu 15 Nov 12

Billybong41 says...

Hmmm....... Wonder what the sentence would've been if Bentham was a working class man off a council estate ?
Hmmm....... Wonder what the sentence would've been if Bentham was a working class man off a council estate ? Billybong41
  • Score: 0

9:16am Thu 15 Nov 12

Bobevans says...

2 years is a joke. If he was held on remand that would be taken off plus the setence can be reduced for good behaviour so he could be inside for less than a year

This in my view was not a minor speding issue. He was doing a 128mph on a road totally unsuitable for high speed driving.He had prior sppoeeding and other motoring offences

The article does not seem to state what he was charged with but in my viiew it should have been manslaughter as driving in such a rreckles manner is very likely to cuase a fatel accident
2 years is a joke. If he was held on remand that would be taken off plus the setence can be reduced for good behaviour so he could be inside for less than a year This in my view was not a minor speding issue. He was doing a 128mph on a road totally unsuitable for high speed driving.He had prior sppoeeding and other motoring offences The article does not seem to state what he was charged with but in my viiew it should have been manslaughter as driving in such a rreckles manner is very likely to cuase a fatel accident Bobevans
  • Score: 0

8:37pm Thu 15 Nov 12

newportexpat says...

This is unbelievable, how on earth are we expected to have any faith in the British justice system when such an appalling miscarriage of justice like this is allowed to happen. A man died because of his actions this beggars belief is the judge actually on this planet. In the news today a train guard was jailed for 5yrs for the manslaughter of a young girl who fell under a train, but he didn't act recklessly & certainly wasn't showing off prior to the accident!!
This is unbelievable, how on earth are we expected to have any faith in the British justice system when such an appalling miscarriage of justice like this is allowed to happen. A man died because of his actions this beggars belief is the judge actually on this planet. In the news today a train guard was jailed for 5yrs for the manslaughter of a young girl who fell under a train, but he didn't act recklessly & certainly wasn't showing off prior to the accident!! newportexpat
  • Score: 0

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