St Albans family devastated by surprisingly short boy racer sentence

A SURPRISINGLY short custodial sentence on the driver of the car in which their daughter died has devastated the family of a 15-year-old St Albans teenager.

The father of Rachel Deradour, who died in a car driven by Robert Dales in April last year, described the eight month sentence imposed yesterday as “completely wrong”.

Twenty-year-old Dales, of Faircross Way, St Albans, was sentenced to eight months in a young offenders institute – half of which he must serve before being released on licence – by Judge Marie Catterson at St Albans Crown Court yesterday morning.

Dales, who was also disqualified from driving for four years, caused the death of popular Colney Heath teenager Rachel in April last year through careless driving which saw him hit the kerb and spin into the path of an oncoming car on the Hemel Hempstead Road.

While on bail for the accident on December 29, Dales crashed his new car – a modified 1.9 diesel yellow Seat Ibiza, which was carrying three teenage passengers at the time – on the A414 between London Colney and Hatfield.

Speaking yesterday, Judge Catterson said that the evidence presented before her over the course of the trial indicated an “almost total lack of remorse” on Dales’ behalf.

She added: “I cannot express in words the pain inflicted on Rachel’s family. The impact will be with them for the rest of their days.”

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Addressing Dales, she continued: “I have no doubt that you had a greatly exaggerated opinion of your own skills as a driver and had a distinct tendency to drive in an attention-grabbing style.”

But, after taking note of Dales’ letters of recommendations and describing him as a “vulnerable young man”, she said that she believed Dales had no intention of causing the crash that killed Rachel.

Although Judge Catterson said that Dales’ offences could only be met by an immediate custodial sentence, she added that she would impose the “the shortest sentence in her power” on what she believed to be “a very young 20-year-old.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Rachel’s father John Deradour, who had anticipated a prison sentence for Dales of at least two years, said that he was disgusted with the result.

“It’s a complete insult to the memory of our beautiful daughter, and all the family is in a complete state of shock. Even thinking without any emotion, I would have expected the judge to pass a sentence of maybe four years.”

He added: “I can’t even put into words how I feel. All I know is that this is completely wrong – justice has not been done.”