Law will be lasting legacy of Ross and Clare Simons

May 30 2022
Law will be lasting legacy of Ross and Clare Simons

THE family of a Fishponds couple who were killed by a speeding disqualified driver have finally won their campaign to toughen sentences.

Ross and Clare Simons, who lived in Hillfields, were killed as they cycled their tandem in Hanham in January 2013.

Ross, who was 34, and Clare, 30, were hit by a speeding car driven by Michael Lovell, who by the age of 38 had already built up 69 previous convictions, including four for dangerous driving, and 13 for driving while disqualified. He fled the scene, leaving Ross and Clare to die in the road.

Later in 2013 Lovell was jailed for ten and a half years, after admitting causing death by dangerous driving. The maximum sentence at the time was 14 years but he received a 'discount' on his sentence for pleading guilty. He served five years and was released in 2018. 

Ross and Clare's relatives launched a campaign to toughen sentences to a maximum of life imprisonment, backed throughout by Kingswood MP Chris Skidmore, in whose constituency the incident happened.

The Justice 4 Ross and Clare campaign has now seen this become law with the passing of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act at the end of April.

A 2014 petition calling for strengthened laws on dangerous driving gathered 15,000 signatures and Mr Skidmore scheduled a Commons debate on the subject.

He also raised the issue with the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, who met Ross and Clare’s family in 2015.

Ross's sister Kelly Woodruff said: “Myself and all of my family are delighted to bring a very long nine-year campaign into its final stages.

"After losing Ross and Clare in 2013 we have always felt we needed to achieve something positive out of an awful situation.

"Changing the death by dangerous driving law from 14 years to life means the world to us, knowing we will be helping future victims and their families.

“We’d like to thank Chris Skidmore and his team for all their help and dedication over the years on this campaign. Without them this wouldn’t have been possible.”

Mr Skidmore said: “I am delighted that the change which Ross and Clare’s family and myself have campaigned for during the past nine years has now become law. 

“For far too long, drivers who killed either through reckless or careless driving have not faced sentences which reflect the terrible damage and harm that they cause to families and local communities. 

“Ross and Clare’s family should be immensely proud of what they have achieved and the positive change that has come from their tireless campaigning.”

Picture: Clare and Ross Simons pictured at their wedding, 18 months before they were killed. Picture courtesy of Kelly Woodruff.