The heartbroken mum of a six-year-old girl from Stoke-on-Trent, killed by a drunken, drug-fuelled driver walked out of court after hearing he had been sentenced to just over six years.
Staffordshire Police said John Stephen Owen, 46, who was sentenced on Tuesday, was also handed an eight-year driving ban after pleading guilty at a previous hearing to causing the death of Sharlotte Naglis by dangerous driving.
Sharlotte was pronounced dead at the scene after being hit by Owen’s Skoda Fabia as she walked on the pavement in Endon Road, north Staffordshire, in June last year.
Her mum, Claire Reynolds, 37, said she was disgusted at the term handed to Owen: "It's an insult. He won't even serve half of the length of Sharlotte's life.
"We feel like our hopes were built up, the way the judge said his previous drink driving offence from years ago was relevant.
"They've recently upped the sentence for dangerous driving so people from now on can be given life. That's how serious it's recognised to be. I know he couldn't have been given that, but this is just disgusting."
Sandals knocked off her feet, eyes half-closed, blood discharging from her ear and her little stomach split open, Claire said seeing her daughter breathless on the road is an image that will haunt her forever.In a statement released after Owen, of The Square, Oakamoor, was sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court, the Staffordshire force said the 46-year-old had been drinking in Leek.
Driver found almost twice the legal alcohol limit and with cocaine in his system
The statement said: "Whilst approaching a bend at speed, Owen lost control of his car, crossed on to the other side of the road, mounted the kerb and collided with Sharlotte, who had been walking on the pavement with her father towards their home.
"Forensic collision investigators calculated Owen’s speed 200 metres prior to the collision as being in the region of 48mph."
Owen, who was injured in the collision after being thrown from the car due to not wearing a seatbelt, was found to be almost twice the legal alcohol limit and had cocaine in his system.
The court was told he was on a hands-free phone call in the moments before the collision, which could have affected his concentration despite it not being a specific offence.
Prosecutor Philip Vollans said: "The defendant was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine and was travelling over the speed limit in a 30mph zone and there is evidence indicating he was using a mobile phone at the time, or just before.
"He was under the influence of drink and drugs."
Mr Vollans added: "He drove his Skoda at speed and approached the bend at a dangerous speed. The impact speed was 48mph.
"As a consequence of the levels of intoxication through drink and drugs it had a substantial effect on his ability to control the vehicle."
Owen was interviewed on November 8 and gave a prepared statement in which he apologised for Sharlotte's death, but said he had no recollection of the crash because of his brain injury.
The defence barrister said Owen had not been able to work since the crash, and had stopped drinking for good.
He said Owen had been described as a "good father to his two daughters" and as having "a heart of gold".
Judge Paul Glenn said Owen's previous conviction was relevant.
He said: "This is a bad case of its type.
"You killed an innocent six-year-old child by driving at excessive speed, 48mph in a 30mph limit shortly before the collision. You lost control of your car while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine. In each case, close to double the proscribed limit.
"Sharlotte had been to the shop with her dad, walking properly on the pavement when you mounted the kerb and struck her.
"Death, mercifully, would have been instantaneous. Her father was also struck."
Judge Glenn said it was a "sad and tragic case".
Pc Gavin Knott, from Staffordshire and West Midlands Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: "Today’s sentence can in no way make up for Sharlotte’s death but I would like to thank her family and the wider community for their support whilst this complex and detailed investigation took place.
"This collision was entirely avoidable and has robbed a family of a happy and loving daughter."
In a statement, the family said: "Sharlotte was so beautiful, full of life, always smiling, sassy, so brave and happy.
"Every night since she was born she would never sleep without holding her mum’s hand. There will never be another child like her for anyone who met her. She was taken so early from us and will never be forgotten."