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Tuesday, April 04, 2006 

Sun, Mail and Mirror-watch: "This insult to our girl's life."

I was going to let this pass by, as the case does seem tragic, even in the face of hyperbolic tabloid outrage. Then I read the Guardian report, and discovered how the mother has mysteriously seemed to change her opinion of the man behind the wheel:
At the January hearing, Ms Craen's mother Susan, 47, had said the only appropriate punishment for Singh would be to force him to attend her daughter's funeral.

"It doesn't make any difference to me if he gets three years or life," she said at the time. "He took away my daughter and time spent in prison can never bring her back.

"If he had come to the funeral and stood near all her family and her friends and witnessed the grief we all felt, he might have realised the pain he's caused."

Mrs Craen spoke out against the sentence after yesterday's hearing.

"Abigail was murdered on October 30 last year," she said. "The man who killed her left her dying on the edge of the road. He did not brake or stop and did not come forward for eight days.

"Abigail was a wonderful, talented and beautiful girl whose life was full of laughter. The sentence is an insult to her. She is dead and the man who killed her has a small interruption in his life. This is no deterrent or punishment."

Normally I'd be inclined to agree with her latter statement. The man was clearly callous, had no insurance, was speeding and didn't stop. Yet he did come forward, admitted his full guilt, and in court he apparently repeatedly wept. This was why the judge was lenient. He has to live the rest of his life knowing that he extinguished the hope of a young woman who wanted to give back to the community. Because he has served 5 months on remand, taking into account that he may serve the rest of half of the sentence before being released on probation, most likely tagged, the Sun distorts the sentence into 9 months. Their article, followed by comments, of which every single one demands a tougher sentence and at least one that says taxes should rise in order to build prisons, doesn't mention her previous comments. Singh is referred to throughout as a maniac, and is quoted as calling himself a "selfish bastard", but that doesn't broke any sympathy for him with the Sun. Their leader column doesn't mince its words:

JASWINDER Singh is a killer.

He took 20-year-old Abi Craen’s life as recklessly as if he had attacked her with a deadly weapon.

He raced his car over an intersection, ignoring a red light — and kept driving without a thought for the young medical student he had left dying in the road.

Then the coward hid his damaged car in a friend’s garage to escape justice.

This cannot be brushed aside as the sort of accident that could happen to anyone.

Singh had just been handed back his licence after a drink-drive ban.

He was only shamed into confessing after pictures of the poor girl’s shattered body were published by her grieving parents.

Singh should have been banged up for manslaughter. At the very least, he should have got the maximum 14 years for dangerous driving.

Instead, he will shortly be free after being sentenced to a ludicrous 18 months.

That is a grotesque insult to Abi, her distraught family — and to British justice.

He took her life as recklessly as if he had attacked with a deadly weapon? Is the Sun really this stupid, or is it trying to make its readers believe that Singh's actions were somehow pre-meditated? What an exaggerated thing to say. I agree his sentence should have been harsher, but 14 years would be stupidly long for someone who has shown remorse, and is clearly traumatised by his actions, selfishness and cowardice.

I have a theory to why Ms Craen's mother seemingly changed her mind about caring about the sentence that Singh got for killing her daughter. Could it possibly be that certain tabloid newspapers may now well pay to get her story and interview as an exclusive? No, that would be cynical, and to suggest that the girl's mother is looking to profit from the death of her daughter would be an outrageous slur. Much like calling Singh a murderer and implying that his actions amount to pre-meditated killing.

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I knew Abi personally...I lived in the same Halls of residence as her. This sentance is an absolute joke. Cars always jump the red light where she was killed and nothing is done about it. We have emailed the local MP who says she isn't going to do anything...and this sentance provides no fear for people who do this. 4 months for murdering my friend? i hope he rots. This isnt over me; and my friends are going to do everything we can in order to improve safety around our area....i firmly believe that if nothing is done in theimmediate future Abi's death will not be the last.

Whoever wrote the crap about Abi's mother getting paid and changing her mind is rubbish....how dare u suggest my friends mother would sell out her own daughter for money??? I hope something happens to your family so u will understand. And what was that about him showing remorse?? He drove over her to get away from the scene of the crime...didn even slow down. i was there...i called the ambulance. how is driving away after murdering someone and confessing after she had died showing remorse? I can't believe how callouse some readers are

I didn't suggest that Abigail's mother had been paid to change her mind. What I suggested was that it seemed strange how she suddenly changed her mind after the sentencing. I agree that 18 months is not a harsh enough sentence, but what I don't agree with is calling the man a murderer or saying that what he did was pre-meditated.

Obviously I commend what you're doing into trying to improve safety locally. As for daring to suggest that your friend's mother would sell out her dead daughter, when you throw about claims of pre-meditation and murder, maybe you should expect non-serious slurs in return. I'm sorry if this makes me seem heartless, especially if claims are made in the heat of the moment, but both of you have said that she was murdered, which seems to prove my point somewhat.

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