Jail term extended for Usk death crash driver

SENTENCE EXTENDED: Richard Bentham, who was jailed for causing the death of Dr Graham Howells

DIED: Dr Graham Howells

First published in News
Last updated

A PROMISING young golfer jailed for causing the death of a retired university lecturer by dangerous driving had his “unduly lenient” sentence extended by top judges yesterday.

Richard Bentham, 22, was “showing off” in his BMW 320 coupé and was driving at speeds up to 128mph before it ploughed into Dr Graham Howells’ camper van on the A449 near Usk in October 2011.

Bentham, a graduate of the Newport Celtic Manor golf academy, who last year took part in qualifiers for the Open Championship, admitted causing death by dangerous driving at Cardiff Crown Court last year.

In November 2012, Bentham, of The Vineyard, Monmouth, was jailed for two years and banned from the road for four years.

But the sentence was considered far too low by Solicitor General Oliver Heald, who referred the case to three senior judges to be looked at again.

Yesterday Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Keith and Mr Justice King, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, agreed and increased it to three years.

The court heard Dr Howells, 67, a grandfather of four who lectured in Cardiff and Swansea, had spent the previous 16 years in South America and had recently retired from his job as English professor at the University of Brasilia.

Bentham initially claimed he had been driving at “roughly 60mph” at the time of the accident and that Dr Howells’ van was showing no rear lights, so that he failed to spot it.

But CCTV revealed he had been speeding for 11km before the collision, hitting a top speed of 128mph and going at over 90mph when he hit the professor’s van, which was properly lit.

This forced it off the road and up a grass verge where it hit a stanchion. Dr Howells died from multiple injuries and trauma.

Lawyers for Bentham said his sentence should not be increased given the impact of jail on his budding career, and cited several positive character references.

But Lady Justice Rafferty said he had been “showing off” and dismissed those arguments, adding: “The speed was grossly excessive at the time of the collision.

The grossly excessive speed was the issue. Dr Howells’ family will never welcome him back.

“I propose to quash the sentence of two years – it is unduly lenient – and I substitute one of three years.”

Comments (5)

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2:41pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Dee-Gee says...

How awful to try to put the blame on Dr Howells for the crash, and what on earth does his career have to do with anything?

The defense lawyers would have done better to concentrate on any remorse shown by their client, and offer a heartfelt apology to Dr Howells' family for initially lying about the circumstances of the crash.
How awful to try to put the blame on Dr Howells for the crash, and what on earth does his career have to do with anything? The defense lawyers would have done better to concentrate on any remorse shown by their client, and offer a heartfelt apology to Dr Howells' family for initially lying about the circumstances of the crash. Dee-Gee
  • Score: 0

3:25pm Wed 23 Jan 13

A.R. Gus says...

there is no remorse let him rot
there is no remorse let him rot A.R. Gus
  • Score: 0

6:06pm Wed 23 Jan 13

Jeff Watkins says...

“Dr Howells, 67.. grandfather.. recently retired..English professor” inadequately portrays a man with such a rare joy for life and so many plans for the future; an accomplished yachtsman (since his time at Atlantic College), an oarsman - rowing on the Usk a week before his “death”, a keep-fit enthusiast who had recently completed a gruelling Krav Maga, self-defence training course in Israel (the oldest man to have done so, coming in ahead of many younger participants) an active squash player who would regularly beat my son (40 years his junior!), until 2 years ago an active rugby player (a 65 year old playing in teams where the rest of the players were under 30!) (see photo at http://www.brasiliar
ugby.com.br/portal/) a legacy of which is the Graham Howells Cup contested for annually by Brasilia rugby teams, Brazil.
Such a tragic death (murder? by a man “showing off” with a blunt, 90 mph instrument!) and such a pitifully inconsequent sentence. A “budding career” in golf is a lame argument for clemency, especially if weighed against Dr. Howells` competencies and plans for his future!
“Dr Howells, 67.. grandfather.. recently retired..English professor” inadequately portrays a man with such a rare joy for life and so many plans for the future; an accomplished yachtsman (since his time at Atlantic College), an oarsman - rowing on the Usk a week before his “death”, a keep-fit enthusiast who had recently completed a gruelling Krav Maga, self-defence training course in Israel (the oldest man to have done so, coming in ahead of many younger participants) an active squash player who would regularly beat my son (40 years his junior!), until 2 years ago an active rugby player (a 65 year old playing in teams where the rest of the players were under 30!) (see photo at http://www.brasiliar ugby.com.br/portal/) a legacy of which is the Graham Howells Cup contested for annually by Brasilia rugby teams, Brazil. Such a tragic death (murder? by a man “showing off” with a blunt, 90 mph instrument!) and such a pitifully inconsequent sentence. A “budding career” in golf is a lame argument for clemency, especially if weighed against Dr. Howells` competencies and plans for his future! Jeff Watkins
  • Score: 0

8:16pm Wed 23 Jan 13

corpardguy says...

Agree with the extras in this case. Now can we do the same for some of the yobos with multiple ASBOs and violent crimes against innocent and infirm victims who receive such slight slaps on the wrist its no deterent at all.

Most of these young offenders get 3 months and probation, well let me tell you.... "it ain't enough" and the recidivism rate proves the point.
Agree with the extras in this case. Now can we do the same for some of the yobos with multiple ASBOs and violent crimes against innocent and infirm victims who receive such slight slaps on the wrist its no deterent at all. Most of these young offenders get 3 months and probation, well let me tell you.... "it ain't enough" and the recidivism rate proves the point. corpardguy
  • Score: 0

9:26pm Wed 23 Jan 13

emlynkide says...

when the government want to close a lott of prisons there wont be anywhere to put them.
when the government want to close a lott of prisons there wont be anywhere to put them. emlynkide
  • Score: 0

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