Video: Family of hit-and-run victim Christopher Ritchie demand justice
PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 April 2014 | UPDATED: 09:21 16 April 2014
The family of a hit-and-run victim are calling for the law to be rewritten as the hunt for his killer continues.
Christopher Ritchie, 52, a father-of three, of Heath Road, Chadwell Heath, was run over and killed on the pavement in Forest Drive, close to Manor Park station, while walking to work at City of London Crematorium last November.
Now his wife Sharon has spoken for the first time about that day.
She said: “There are no words to describe the devastation I’m feeling.
“As long as I live I will never get over it because Chris was such a big part of my life. I wish the driver had died in his place because of the intense pain he’s caused me and my family. If we had a deterrent like hanging there’d be fewer crimes.”
A man, thought to be the driver of the car – a stolen Ford Focus – was seen running away from the scene.
“In the hands of a criminal a car is more dangerous than a gun.
“People can die a slower death from being hit by a car, or even left paralysed for life, and yet the sentence is much lighter.”
There is no specific charge for killing or injuring someone in a hit-and-run crash, although failing to stop after a crash is an offence.
If someone does flee the scene, police then have the difficult job of proving his or her driving was below a certain standard in order to charge him or her with death by careless, or dangerous, driving.
Sharon’s sister Patricia Moses, 44, said: “The driver deserves to hang slowly for what he’s done. After a few years of living comfortably he’ll be out [of jail] and free from it all, but we’ll always have to live with it.
“The sentences for killing are nowhere near tough enough.
“I will fight forever. Even if it takes me to my dying breath, I want to see justice.”
Christopher and Sharon would have celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this summer and had been planning a three-week holiday at a family-owned apartment in Spain.
Sister-in-law Carole Moses, married to Sharon and Patricia’s brother Dale – best man at Christopher and Sharon’s wedding – works as a driving instructor and drives past the scene nearly every day. “There’s just a big void in this family that will never be filled,” she told the Post.
“To have him ripped away like that without any reason or warning is horrible, but to know his killer is still out there is just too much.
“It’s been five months now but it feels like yesterday.”
Christopher left his home about 7.05am on November 20, leaving Manor Park station 7.30am on his way to work at the cemetery where he had worked for 15 years.
Sharon added: “I heard on the radio there had been an accident and I remember thinking, ‘I hope something hasn’t happened’.
“Then the police came round and even then I was expecting them to say there had been an accident and he was in hospital. When they told me he had already died I just dropped to the floor.”
Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for road safety charity Brake, said: “Knocking someone down and leaving them to die at the side of the road is an abhorrent crime.
“Yet we have a justice system which incentivises drivers to flee the scene of the crime, knowing that they may well face a paltry two- year maximum sentence for hit-and-run.
“We need hit-and-run killers to face the same 14-year maximum sentence as other killer drivers, with an assumption that if they fled the scene, they caused the crash through dangerous driving.”