Family of student dragged quarter-mile in Northamptonshire hit-and-run call for harsher sentence

  • 'Disgusting, terrible' - the families of the teenagers injured by Hugo Fernandes criticise his sentence

  • Warning: This article contains graphic images of injury

The family of a teenager carried a quarter of a mile on a car bonnet by a drink-driver who mowed him and his friends down have hit out at his sentence.

Neo Reilly, 18, was celebrating the end of his exams with three friends when they were knocked down on a zebra crossing, and he was left trapped in the car windscreen as the driver carried on driving.

His family said the impact on the youngster - who suffered a fractured ankle, fractured elbow, fractured wrist and lacerations to his face - had been life-changing and are now calling for harsher sentences for dangerous driving.

Hugo Fernandes, 36, was jailed in September for seven years and one month. The court had been told he had crossed on to the wrong side of the road to overtake another vehicle when he smashed into the friends on Cottingham Road in Corby in Northamptonshire on 24 June.

He admitted three counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, attempted grievous bodily harm, drink driving and driving without insurance.

Neo Reilly's family want tougher sentences for dangerous drivers. Credit: Family photo

Claire Reilly said: "It's just a mother's worst nightmare, to be honest... It was a night for celebrating. They don't go out very often. They are very dedicated to their school work and it had been very stressful over the past two years for them.

"You get that knock... and you go down," she said, describing the moment she found out about her son being injured. "I just don't want anyone else to go through that."

The maximum custodial sentence for causing serious injury by dangerous driving is five years, though Fernandes' total sentence was longer because of the additional charges.

Her husband Phillip said the current sentencing guidelines were "not good enough".

Neo Reilly was left in an induced coma as he recovered from his injuries. Credit: Family photo

Neo's sister Trinity said her brother's injuries had changed him forever.

"My brother is not the same as he was," she said. "It's very hard to talk to him now because he is just not in the right state of mind with his mental health.

"He just doesn't have that glow about him any more [as he did] when I used to talk to him."

All four of the teenagers, two boys and two girls, were seriously injured.

One of the girls went through two operations after sustaining a displaced ankle, fractured pelvis and multiple breaks to her wrist, and a second girl suffered a cut to her chin, whiplash and heavy bruising to her arm and leg.

George Richards, 18, with his father Carl. Credit: Family photo

The other boy, George Richards, also 18, has had to learn to walk and speak again - and is still at a rehabilitation centre in Leamington Spa.

His father Carl said it was not clear how fully he would recover, and described Fernandes' sentence as "disgusting".

"It's nothing for what he's done: he's changed four lives, psychologically and physically.

"They are never going to forget this. In three years' time he is going to get out and start his new life, which is disgusting, terrible."

Hugo Fernandes was jailed for seven years and one month. Credit: Northamptonshire Police

Fernandes did not stop at any point during the incident and his car was later found abandoned.

After his sentencing at Northampton Crown Court, police said they hoped his sentence would provide closure to the victims' families.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said that a consultation over revising the sentencing guidelines for causing serious injury by dangerous driving had closed in September.

The maximum sentences for causing death by dangerous driving, including when under the influence of drink or drugs, were increased in June.

A spokesman said: “This was a horrific crime and our thoughts remain with the victims.

“Judges decide individual sentences but we have recently toughened up sentencing for driving offences, including introducing life sentences for those who kill people, so that the punishment fits the crime and to deter people from reckless driving in the first place.”

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