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The family of two younger siblings killed in a highway crash caused by a drunk driver who sipped red wine while driving and had cocaine in his system say they are devastated and angry after he was imprisoned for only nine years.

Judge Williams acknowledged that many people would think the sentence he gave Martin Newman was inadequate, but said sentencing laws set by Parliament meant he could not jail him any longer.

Newman, 41, admitted to causing the dangerous driving deaths of three-year-old Jayden-Lee Lucas and his sister, four-year-old Gracie-Ann. He also pleaded guilty to seriously injuring their mother, Rhiannon Lucas.

The court was told the painter and decorator had twice exceeded the drink-driving limit and had traces of cocaine in his system after partying with colleagues in the East Midlands the previous day.

Newman, himself a father-of-two, was traveling from Leicester to his home in the village of Croeserw, Neath Port Talbot, on the M4 in his white Ford Transit van when he veered onto the hard shoulder at around 1.45pm on Saturday. Feb. 5 and hit the family’s stationary red Ford Fiesta.

They had stopped to allow Gracie-Ann to go to the bathroom after she complained of a bad stomach.

Children’s family ‘devastated’ after drunk M4 driver jailed for just nine years |  UK News
Martin Newmann. The judge said sentencing laws meant he couldn’t jail him any longer. Photograph: Gwent Police/PA

Newman crashed into the back of the car, where the children were, at 57mph, causing them ‘catastrophic brain damage’. He had been seen driving erratically before the collision, talking on the phone and sipping red wine while driving, telling police it was for his “dry throat”. He had been drinking double vodkas, 10 cans of cider and taking cocaine until 5 a.m. the day of the accident.

The judge told Newman he was guilty of the “most serious level of dangerous driving”, but said: “Parliament has set the maximum sentence at 14 years imprisonment. Many will think that such a maximum penalty is insufficient to reflect what you have done. Many might call for the maximum sentence to be reconsidered. This is not the business of the court, but of parliament.

The judge said he was required by law to reduce Newman’s sentence by a third because he pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.

Newman was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison. He is expected to serve only half of his custodial sentence. He was also banned from driving for 14 years and eight months.

Lucas’ uncle, Darren Lucas, said: “We are absolutely devastated. He should have had a lot more time than that. The sentence wasn’t severe enough for costing the lives of two children while they were drunk and on drugs and everything else. The law must change. The family will appeal for a harsher sentence. We will start campaigning to change the law and do our best for the memory of these children so that something like this does not happen again.

A statement from the family, from Tredegar, Blaenau Gwent, read: ‘Our family home now feels like an empty shell without them and the love and happiness they brought to us can never be replaced. Our lives have been destroyed.

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