How can ‘drunkest driver ever’ be free in four years? Devastated sister demands justice after killer mowed down student

1 December 2022, 12:57 | Updated: 1 December 2022, 13:06

Rosie (L) pictured with her sister Fenella Hawes, wants a harsher sentence for killer driver Malcolm Waite
Rosie (L) pictured with her sister Fenella Hawes, wants a harsher sentence for killer driver Malcolm Waite. Picture: Supplied/Norfolk Police

By Asher McShane

The sister of a student killed by a man described by police as ‘the drunkest person ever seen’ driving a car has told of her devastation and called for harsher sentences for killer drivers.

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Lancaster University student Fenella Hawes, 20, was hit and killed by Malcolm Waite, 68, who was more than three times the legal limit.

She died after being hit by Waite’s car while walking home with a friend on the afternoon of July 31. She was carrying sunflowers to give to her mother when she was hit, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Just a month before she was killed, the government changed the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life in prison.

Waite was given eight years, meaning he could be out of prison in four years’ time.

Fenella Hawes, pictured carrying a flower for her mum minutes before she was killed
Fenella Hawes, pictured carrying a flower for her mum minutes before she was killed. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

Speaking to LBC, Fenella’s sister Rosie, said: “ I feel that the sentence is unjust is because it does not reflect my sisters life, nor the life she was due to have.

“The law had changed in June this year so that guidance for sentencing was increased, to reflect the severity of death by dangerous driving, but this however does not seem to me to be reflected in this case.

“I know that increasing his sentence will not bring my little sister back, neither will it heal the dark hole that is in my families hearts, but it feels wrong to sit back and accept that a man can kill my sister and be out of jail in 4 years."

A petition has been launched calling for Waite’s sentence to be increased to “something he deserves.”

“It seems to be the only crime involving death that doesn't carry a lengthy custody sentence, and that needs to change, before more families like mine get put through the turmoil we currently find ourselves in," Rosie added.

“My sister was a beautiful young lady with her life ahead of her, and I want everyone to know how amazing she was and how this has truly devastated all that knew her, and now further afield.

“I will never stop fighting until justice is fully served in her memory.”

Fenella had been walking home from work with a friend on July 31 when Waite crashed into them on the A149 Wayford Road in Stalham, near Norwich.

Waite was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, and disqualified from driving for another seven years.

Drink driver belligerently rants at Norfolk Constabulary officer in bodycam footage

Body-worn footage released by police showed Waite slurring his words while being arrested after the crash.

A court heard how the driver did not stop after smashing into Ms Hawes and the 16-year-old, carrying on before crashing into a tree.

He stank of alcohol, but refused to take a breathalyser test by the side of the road.

Officers arrested him and took him to Great Yarmouth Police station, where he was found to have 120 micrograms of alcohol in his breath - and police believe this would have been about 158 micrograms if taken at the roadside after the crash.

Malcolm Waite
Malcolm Waite. Picture: Norfolk Constabulary

The legal limit is 35 micrograms.

Police found that his vehicle was not faulty, and the weather conditions were fine.

PC Callum Walchester, who arrested Waite at the scene of the collision, said: “I’ve been a PC for 10 years and worked in roads policing for almost six years, and he was the drunkest person I have ever seen behind the wheel of a car.”

Fenella’s mother Margaret said she cries every day thinking about her daughter.

“Every day I sob, when I wake up, throughout the day at random times with seemingly no reason and when I go to bed at night," she said.

"I picture her walking along, so happy carrying sunflowers for me and then being hit by the car.

"I sob because I will never see Fenella again, I will never see her radiant smile or hear her laugh, I will never talk with her about her day or about her plans for the future, I will never help cheer her up when she is sad or gossip with her, I will never go on long walks with her again…I will never be able to sit with her in front of our fire…it will never be the same again.

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“I sob for the future that she doesn't have because a drunken man chose to get into a car, knowing that this was a weapon that could kill someone, and indeed it did it killed my 20-year-old daughter.

She added: "She was a young adult beginning her life and her bright future was taken out in a few seconds because of someone who did not think or did not care.

"I sob because she was so happy: she was so lovely inside and out she was so alive and now she isn't here, and never will be again. I never had a chance to say goodbye.”

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