Family outraged at Plymouth driver’s death crash sentence

The devastated family of a woman who was tragically killed by a driver under the influence of laughing gas and ignoring a red light are contemplating an appeal against what they say is an unjustly lenient sentence. Harry Lock’s vehicle struck and fatally wounded mother-of-three Maria Perez-Gonzalez as she crossed Western Way, Exeter.

Lock, 24, from Shortwood Crescent, Plymouth, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and received a prison sentence of three years and four months, along with a two-year driving ban. Edgar, Maria’s eldest son, expressed his despair and anger upon hearing the verdict.

“I was speechless,” he confessed. “When I heard that he would only serve one year and six months in jail, with the remainder on probation, I felt a surge of rage, anger and helplessness.”

He compared these emotions to those he experienced when his mother was struck by Lock on August 7, 2021. Lock had been inhaling nitrous oxide while driving through a red light, hitting Maria as she crossed Western Way on her bicycle.

Despite pleas from his passenger to stop using the substance, Lock continued, the court was told. Maria, a 53 year old healthcare assistant from Exeter, sadly passed away in hospital from her injuries two days later, reports Devon Live[1].

Edgar shared: “I had prepared myself mentally and emotionally for the outcome of the case. I was aware no sentencing would seem sufficient or appropriate.”

“I was also aware that Harry Lock would be receiving a decrease in sentencing for declaring himself guilty of all charges. The lawyers and detectives worked themselves endlessly to collect all the evidence and created a great case to confirm every fact presented the day of sentencing.”

He said Maria’s family had endured three years of mourning waiting for the case to be resolved with Lock stalling on his plea until the last minute.

Maria Perez-Gonzalez:
Maria Perez-Gonzalez

“I had hopes in the system and believed that her life would serve as an example to other drivers,” said Edgar. “That it would shed light to the cyclists in the town of Exeter that suffered similar accidents and show how vulnerable pedestrians are. However, after the sentencing it was clear that our lives are worthless.”

“As my brother Christopher stated, ‘The fact that an individual can recklessly cause the death of a beloved family member, using illegal substances behind the wheel and ultimately receive less than two years in prison seems entirely unjust to me. I don’t believe this sentencing and the culmination of the process actually serves as a positive reflection of the judicial system. This individual will spend less time in prison than we had to wait to get to this point’.”

He expressed his dissatisfaction with the judge’s decision, stating: “I feel as he was mainly convicted for driving under the influence not for the multiple charges he had such as driving under the influence and the death of my mother,” Edgar lamented.

“Harry Lock prolonged the case by months by first placing the blame on my mother. Then, pleading conditionally guilty and lastly, the day of court on June 11 changing his statement and accepting all charges and guilty to all accusations.” He criticised the judge for giving undue credit to Lock for his late guilty plea.

The bereaved family is seeking legal counsel for a potential appeal to the Attorney General and is also preparing for a civil lawsuit. In a heartfelt victim impact statement, Edgar shared: “She was a mother, a provider, a grandmother, a best friend, a daughter.”

“On August 8, 2021, I received a call that broke hope, excitement and took happiness and life away from me. I lost my best friend, the grandmother to my kids, my mother.”

“We would speak of her growing old and being with her grandchildren and travelling the world. My mother always fought for what she had and worked very hard to achieve all her goals despite every obstacle.”

“She was strong women who started her day with a run regardless of the weather[2]. She was a woman that motivated me to be a better man and a great father.”

“On August 8 I was robbed of my lifeline. I would never hear her words of wisdom. Instead, I was left to pre-recorded voicemail messages that I would reply to help me get through my days. I was left reading old text messages, old birthday wishes.”

“I can fill in pages and write a book about her life, every accomplishment and everyone she helped. She was a woman that had so much to give and so much more to accomplish.”

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