In the House of Commons this afternoon, Jonathan Gullis questioned the Secretary of State for Justice about the Government’s support for ‘Sharlotte’s Law’.
It is now over two years since the tragic death of Sharlotte-Sky Naglis when John Owen – who was found to be over the drink drive limit and on cocaine - lost control of his car and struck her.
The investigation into Sharlotte’s death was delayed as Mr Owen was in a coma when the investigation began. Under Section 7A of the Road Traffic Act, legally, blood samples can be taken without a suspect’s consent, yet not subject to a test until consent is given. Therefore, in situations like this one, the investigation is delayed until consent is received.
Subsection 6 of the Act says that “If a person fails to give their permission for a laboratory test of their blood sample without a reasonable excuse, then under Section 7A is guilty of an offence.”
Mr Gullis argues that this effectively means that consent is a simple formality. However, because Mr Owen was in a coma, the current law means that he could not consent to test his blood samples for drugs and alcohol. This prolonged the investigation into Sharlotte’s death and put needless stress on Sharlotte’s family and the wider community.
Alongside Claire Reynolds, Sharlotte’s inspiring mother, Jonathan has launched a petition to press for ‘Sharlotte’s Law’ which would make statutory changes to ensure that no family has to suffer like Sharlotte’s did. It would make legislative change to make it possible to test blood samples without consent. If this had been the case whilst Mr Owen was in a coma, the investigation into Sharlotte’s death would never have been dragged on needlessly for so long.
The petition has gained real momentum, with over 1263 signatures since its launch on Monday last week. Jonathan has written to both the Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Police, Crime and Fire Commissioner for Staffordshire, Ben Adams, to gain their endorsement for a change in the law.
In the House, Jonathan said that:
“My understanding of the law presently is that if someone was driving a motor vehicle and they killed an individual, their blood can be taken without their consent but the blood cannot be tested unless the defendant gives their consent and if the defendant refuses to give consent, that is accepted as a guilt in the eyes of the law. This means victims like Claire, the mother of six-year old Sharlotte-Sky - who tragically lost her life in Norton Green due to John Owen who was on drink and on drugs – waited over a year before she got her day and justice in court. Will the Lord Chancellor back my campaign for Sharlotte’s Law to be introduced?”
Responding, the Secretary of State said that:
“My honourable Friend has been a doughty champion on this issue – he continues to raise it and I suggest him and I have a conversation in due course.”