‘Final chapter’ of drink driving campaign closes

By Alexandra Bánfi   |   Reporter   |
Wednesday 6th July 2022 9:28 am
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Miriam Briddon was killed by a drunk driver, Gareth Entwistle, in 2014 ( )

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News that causing death by dangerous driving can now carry life imprisonment has “closed the final chapter of A Moment for Miriam”, a campaign launched after the death of a 21-year-old.

Miriam Briddon was just 21 when she was killed by a drunk driver.

Leaving her New Cross family home, at 6.30pm on 29 March 2014 to visit her boyfriend’s house, Miriam was killed shortly after, at 7pm, in a head on collision.

Racked by “the numbness, the shock, the disbelief, the sorrow and the total devastation” that her death caused, her family had to wait for two years for justice to be done.

In 2016, Gareth Entwistle was initially jailed for five and a half years after admitting causing death by careless driving, but later had this reduced by six months by judges at London’s Criminal Appeal Court.

In the end, Entwistle, only served two and a half years, leaving prison on good behaviour.

Ceinwen Briddon, Miriam’s mother, said: “I can’t put into words how angry I feel about it all. He has shown no remorse and he is a free man. Whereas on 29 March 2014, my daughter was completely innocent, she was just driving to her boyfriend’s house for supper, she never drove fast, she was careful and slow.

“He had been drinking excessively, speeding, and went head on into her. He killed an innocent life. It wasn’t the case that two people were to blame, she was innocent. Now he’s a free man and she’s in a grave.

“She had her whole life ahead of her, she was in her final year of university, she was forecast to get a first class honours.”

But now the law has been changed. Causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving while drunk or on drugs will now carry the top-level punishment of life imprisonment. The previous maximum was 14 years.

After launching a petition to achieve just this in August 2016, Ceinwen said she had lost hope in law change.

“When I heard the news I was shocked it had finally happened. I had resigned myself to the situation as so much time had past. I was happy because this is what the petition was for, we took it to Downing Street when it was on 110,000. It was still live after that and 152,000 people felt so strong that they signed it.

“I felt a sense of relief and gratitude to people who signed it. It was worth it. It’s not all been us, there are other families, but I do feel we have done something positive and contributed to the change in the guidelines and the law.

“It doesn’t change anything for us, the grief is still the same as it was, the trauma of it, the insult that he’s free man after killing her, that’s still the same. But I do feel a sense of satisfaction.”

The news has forced the family to relive some “painful memories”: “I just want people to think before they drink and drive. If they are going out for a few drinks that’s all well and good, but arrange to be picked up, or a taxi, or if you know you can’t get home, just don’t get drink.

“People refer to Miriam being killed in a car accident. But it’s not an accident, it’s a decision that a person makes. In the wrong hands, a car is a powerful weapon.”

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