Drive for Justice: Spalding dad - “It’s our family serving the life sentence for Tim’s death”
A drink-driver was handed an eight year jail term for a 70mph hit and run in which cyclist Tim Osborne was killed.
Tim’s dad, Stephen, knows driver Paul Walken will serve only half that sentence while Tim’s loved ones serve “life”.
Stephen and his family were dealt a life-sentence of unimaginable pain ever since the evening of September 14, 2012 when they found Tim’s body in a ditch beside the A151 at Pode Hole, five minutes away from their home in Bourne Road, Spalding.
Stephen (53) supports our Drive for Justice Campaign, saying judges should have greater sentencing powers – even prison with hard labour and bread and water.
He said: “At the end of the prison sentence, he (Walken) is free while we, of course, are not. At times you feel as if you are the ones who have done something wrong.”
Folkingham man Walken was sent to prison in the spring of 2014 after changing his plea to guilty at the 11th hour. He was aged 42 at the time.
Regardless of what people say, there can never be closure
Stephen revealed this week that his family still cannot bear to celebrate Christmas because Tim had been the life and soul of their festive parties.
Stephen told us: “He (Walken) has appealed twice, I think, and it was blocked by the judge who was dealing with the appeal.
“He got eight years. The judge gave him the maximum he could. He said he had to give him, grudgingly, a bit of time off for changing his plea to guilty. It was done over three court sessions.
“To be honest, I was quite numb about it. I was very angry with him still because we knew at that stage we would never get to know why didn’t he stop. Why didn’t he stop? That’s the one question I think all of us would really like to know. We have to accept the rest of it but that’s the one bit that stops us from moving on.
“It tore us apart, literally, it broke us up.
“The impression we were given by the judge’s comments was that if he could have given him a longer sentence he would have.
“This last year, this is just me, my wife and children don’t agree, I have sort of been feeling sorry for his (Walken’s) wife and children because they have suffered probably as much as we have because, obviously, they are suffering for something they didn’t do.
“Prison to me, once he’s got used to it, is like going to work. If you were on a chain gang doing 14 hours a day hard labour and being fed bread and water that would be different.”
Would he have wanted Walken to do hard labour?
Stephen replies: “Yes, definitely, I would like him to suffer every day. I don’t agree that they should get 50 per cent off their sentence automatically. I believe if you are given a sentence you should serve that sentence.”
Stephen and wife Lynne have daughters, Zoe and Emma, a son Michael, and a grandchild.
Stephen says: “Michael doesn’t talk about it. I think the girls have sort of discussed it among themselves. I would presume he (Michael) has blocked it out, although Lynne says he has actually grieved.
“We have not moved on. I think we have come to accept it. I had a nervous breakdown just afterwards, just after the court case finished, because I was trying to hold the family together and dealing with the Press and TV.”
Anniversaries are tougher than other days.
“Obviously Tim’s birthday is very hard,” said Stephen. “Although we do still have his favourite meal. He liked a burger and chips. There’s obviously the day he died, the day of the funeral and the biggest one is Christmas because he was the life and soul of the party and we don’t celebrate it at all now. We have food and that’s it. We have no decorations, nothing.”
Stephen says the family were offered counselling but that was too soon after the tragedy.
“I eventually went to see the doctors and they put me forward to see a shrink, basically it was 12 weeks – that’s all you get on the NHS. It helped immensely but unfortunately I slipped back.”
Stephen’s mum is dying from cancer and he says she hid that news from him until just recently because of his depression.
“Regardless of what people say, there can never be closure,” said Stephen.
Our Drive For Justice campaign received a major boost when the Ministry of Justice have launched the Government’s much-anticipated consultation into dangerous driving offences.
Our campaign aims to:
Call on the Government to re-work sentencing guidelines and give judges specialist training so they can use the full powers that are available to them when deciding sentences.
To have tougher sentences for the worst offenders.
Have all culpable deaths treated as manslaughter.
See more driving bans and longer driving bans handed out to those who kill or seriously injure on the roads.
Close the loopholes that exist such as with hit-and-runs where failure to stop carries a maximum of six months in prison while drink-driving penalties are tougher, meaning those drink-driving can get a lesser sentence if they flee the scene.
Look at the charges of Dangerous Driving and Careless Driving. Bereaved families feel “careless” undermines the severity of the offence when someone is killed or seriously injured by illegal and risky behaviour.