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'We have a life sentence, all he has is a driving ban'.

Byline: By Peter Collins South Wales Echo

A grieving couple held an emotional court protest in a bid to stop a drink-driver having his driving ban reduced.

Roger and Kerry Palmer, whose 18-year-old son Aaron was killed when he was struck by a car, have also collected a 1,000-signature petition protesting against the driver Thomas Barker, 20, reducing his driving ban.

Mr Palmer of Evelyn Street, Barry, said: 'He should not be allowed to apply for the ban to be reduced. It is disgusting. We have been given a life sentence with the loss of Aaron. All he has is the inconvenience of a driving ban.'

Aaron was described by his family as 'quiet and homely', a boy who loved fishing and was learning to drive.

He died on Boxing Day, 2003. Witnesses said they had earlier seen him walking on the grass verge of the B4265 near Boverton trying to flag down cars.

Barker, of Beaufort Way, Rhoose, who was nearly twice over the drink-drive limit, was later sentenced to four months in a young offenders' institution after admitting drinking and driving. He served eight weeks of the sentence and was also banned from driving for three years.

Yesterday he applied to magistrates in Barry for the final year to be cancelled.

He was not in court but Mr and Mrs Palmer were with their petition.

Mr Palmer said: 'It is not just for us but for every family which has gone through the heartache of losing a child in this way.

'We do not think there should be any way in which a person convicted of drink driving should be able to get their licence back early.

'We still think of Aaron all the time. He was just coming out of his shell and was learning to drive. I never imagined I would be burying Aaron at the age of 18.

'Aaron was a loving person who was loved by all his family and all those who knew him.'

In a police interview, which was presented as evidence at a subsequent coroner's inquest, Barker said: 'In a split second there was a guy in front of me. There was no way I could avoid him. I just froze.'

The magistrates yesterday agreed to adjourn the application after being told that the South Wales Road Death Investigation Team needed more time to compile a report on the matter.

Speaking outside the court, pipe fitter Mr Palmer, who has two other children Ashley, 14, and Kimberley, 18, said: 'Barker will eventually get his licence back. He will get his life back. Tell him to go to the cemetery and see my son's grave.'
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 25, 2006
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