Anti-drink drive charities are furious after a man who drank cider and spirits before killing a child escaped a hefty jail sentence – because of a FAULTY breathalyser.
Reckless Cameron Trivett, 24, got behind the wheel after downing two pints of cider, two or three gin and tonics and a share of six shots of Jagermeister – in the MORNING.
He topped up a heavy drinking session from the previous evening just hours before crashing into ten-year-old Samuel Crocker – who was on his way to see a friend’s puppy.
But it has now emerged that despite estimates he was twice the drink-drive limit – a faulty breath tester gave him vital time to sober up.
The police equipment was not working properly and by the time he was tested he was under the legal drink drive limit.
Police sources say cutbacks are to blame for Trivett escaping justice as there are fewer staff to carry out the servicing and calibration of breath test equipment.
He was jailed for four years at Exeter Crown Court after admitting death by careless driving.
It has now emerged because of the faulty breathalyser Trivet avoided a more serious charge of death by dangerous driving – which carries a sentence of up to 14 years.
The reason he escaped with the lesser charge had been questioned by the public but no details of why had came out in court.
The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed it did not pursue a more serious charge of death by dangerous driving or driving under the influence.
It carries a much longer sentence of up to 14 years – but due to the lack of evidence the charges could not be bought.
Carole Whittingham of Campaign Against Drinking and Driving said the case was ”disturbing” and fears police cutbacks means it may happen again.
She said: “He will only serve two years for killing someone and that seems very lenient. The family of the boy will have to deal with their bereavement forever.
“In my opinion the CPS have been very lazy not to pursue this further and as a result a bereaved family has to come to terms with the fact this killer drink-driver could be free again in two years.
“If he had been charged with death by careless driving, while under the influence the sentence is 14 years.
“It seems quite lazy of the authorities to not pursue charges and push for what should have happened.
“There are all sorts of loopholes that drink drivers seem to be able to get through.
“It is a great concern – especially as other options were open to the police with regards testing and were not used.
“I don’t know what procedure is currently in place for calibration, but it used to have to be done every month.
“That has clearly been missed – but they have other options which were clearly also missed in this case.
“I have great concern that police cutbacks could see more drink drivers such as him avoiding justice.
“The fact he got behind the wheel of a car after such a heavy drinking session and then killed a poor boy is disgraceful. He should be made to pay for what he did.
“Unfortunately we are hearing this sort of thing more and more. There are less traffic officers out on the roads and if you add that into the fact the equipment is not being properly maintained, then tragically this won’t be the last time we hear of a case like this.”
Trivett had been drinking heavily the night before the incident which happened at around 1.35pm on Saturday, February 28, in Crediton, Devon.
After ignoring friend’s repeated requests not to drive, Trivett got behind the wheel but fled after the crash leaving Samuel dead at the scene.
Officers caught him later but were unable to take a reading as the breathalyser had not been calibrated properly.
By the time he was taken to a functioning machine he gave a reading that was below the drink drive limit.
Passing sentence at Exeter Crown Court last month Judge Frances Gilbert QC said he was bound by sentencing guidelines.
Trivett is likely to serve just half of his sentence with the judge himself telling the court that to many the jail term seems “wholly inadequate”.
Devon and Cornwall Police claim that had the first device been functioning correctly it would have made no difference to charges despite the faulty equipment indicating that Trivett had been drinking.
Since the case concluded last month many have questioned why Trivett, of Crediton, Devon, had not faced more serious charges.
Passers-by saw him driving erratically and mounting a pavement moments before
And on the morning of the crash he downed two pints of cider, two or three gin and tonics and a share of six shots of Jagermeister.
He was reportedly told by friends not to drive and appeared visibly drunk.
The breathalyser used by officers who arrested him had not been calibrated correctly, although the device indicated to them that he had been drinking.
He was taken into custody and within the hour tested again, this time on a more accurate intoxilizer machine.
Police and prosecutors were concerned that if they pursued the more serious charge
Trivett would deny it, potentially leading to delays or even his acquittal.
Because he admitted the charge at the earliest opportunity the case went directly to sentencing and was concluded swiftly.
The CPS says Samuel’s family were consulted on the options.
CPS reviewing lawyer Mark Haddow said: “The CPS carefully considered all potential charges in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors and in consultation with colleagues from Devon & Cornwall Police decided that a charge of death by careless driving should be authorised.
“There was insufficient evidence to authorise a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.
“The reasons for this were explained to the victim’s family, who indicated they were satisfied with this charge given that the defendant had indicated a guilty plea and the matter would therefore be dealt with expeditiously .
“Mr Trivett pleaded guilty at an early stage, less than four months after the tragic incident, and, in line with the court’ s sentencing guidelines, was given credit for doing so.
“Had a trial been required it is likely this would not have taken place until 2016, prolonging the whole experience for the victim’s family.”
Samuel’s parents Stuart and Clare Crocker released a statement after Trivett was sentenced.
They said: “As a family we are relieved that justice has been done and it means that we now have closure of this part of the horrendous situation we found ourselves in on February 28.
“Although the length of sentence makes no difference to us and will not bring Samuel back, at least it may prevent another family going through what we have.
“On that day in February the driver made the decision to consume alcohol and then got behind the wheel of his uninsured vehicle. We have to live with the consequences of his decision for the rest of our lives -a life without our darling son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend.
“We now begin the task of picking up the pieces of our shattered lives without him.”