A DRINK-DRIVER jailed for eight years and eight months for causing the deaths of a couple by ploughing into their vehicle has had his sentence challenged as unduly lenient.

Thomas Finnegan, 29, was locked up at Bradford Crown Court on January 4 after his Mercedes Vito van smashed into a Nissan Juke being driven by Mark Gregson shortly before 10pm on January 24 last year, on the A59 near Skipton.

Mr Gregson, 52, and his partner Claire Lucas, 43, were pronounced dead at the scene. Finnegan’s girlfriend, Lucille Hammond, who was the front seat passenger in the van, suffered a fractured spine.

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said: “We have received a request for the sentence of Thomas Finnegan to be considered under the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme. The Law Officers have 28 days from sentencing to consider the case and make a decision.”

The scheme allows people to challenge a sentence if they think it is too low. Victims, members of the public and prosecutors can ask for sentences covered under the scheme to be reviewed. If deemed too low, the Attorney General can ask the Court of Appeal to review the sentence with a view to increasing it.

Finnegan, of Park Lane, North Newington, near Banbury, Oxfordshire, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, one offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving, driving while under the influence of drugs and driving with excess alcohol.

He was driving home after drinking and taking drugs at The Cross Keys at East Marton.

Mr Gregson, who worked for Arla Foods at Settle, and Ms Lucas, headteacher at Bradley Nursery School in Nelson, were returning to their home near Kelbrook after a shopping trip.

The court heard that the happy and popular couple had been together for around four years and had two children each from previous relationships.

Finnegan, who sustained only minor injuries in the crash, was almost twice the legal drink-drive limit and had cocaine and cannabis in his blood.

He told the police he drank three pints of lager at the pub and took two to three grams of cocaine.

Victim impact statements from the families of Mr Gregson and Ms Lucas spoke of the couple’s happiness together and closeness to their loved ones. Four children had lost a parent and would suffer the heartbreak for the rest of their lives.

The Recorder of Bradford, Judge Richard Mansell QC, said Mr Gregson and Ms Lucas were a happy couple whose lives were cruelly cut short.

Mr Gregson had absolutely no chance of avoiding the collision. Finnegan ploughed into his vehicle head-on devastating the lives of both families.

Judge Mansell banned Finnegan from driving for nine years and four months and until he takes an extended retest.

The maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years’ imprison-ment. Judge Mansell took a 13 year starting point and was legally obliged to discount it for Finnegan’s early guilty plea.