Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Dangerous driver, Luis Fernando Balcazar Soto, will spend longer in prison [January 2023]

The press release issued by the Attorney General’s office on 25 January 2023.

A dangerous driver who caused the death of 31-year-old Sophie Strickland will serve a longer prison sentence after the Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson KC MP presented the case at the Court of Appeal.

In the early hours of 10 July 2022, Luis Fernando Balcazar Soto, 25, lost control of the vehicle he was driving and collided with a rickshaw which was parked at the side of the road.

The passenger in the rickshaw, Sophie Strickland, suffered catastrophic injuries as a result, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services she was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

The driver of the rickshaw, Tanvir Ahmed, survived but was left with life-changing injuries.

At the time of the crash, Balcazar Soto, from South East London, was driving with a passenger he was prohibited from contacting under the terms of a Restraining Order.

He was driving up to nearly twice the speed limit prior to the crash and was found to have alcohol in his system when arrested.

On 1 November 2022, Balcazar Soto was sentenced to 9 years and 9 months’ imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court for causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, breach of a Restraining Order and breach of a suspended sentence.

His sentence was then referred to the Court of Appeal by the Solicitor General as Unduly Lenient.

On 25 January 2023 Balcazar Soto’s original sentence was quashed and substituted by a total sentence of 12 years and 9 months’ imprisonment.

The Solicitor General Michael Tomlinson KC MP said:

Today all my thoughts are with the family and friends of Sophie Strickland, whose life was so tragically cut short by the criminally dangerous driving of Luis Fernando Balcazar Soto. I want to pay tribute to Sophie’s family, who have shown immense strength and courage during such a desperately difficult time.

I referred this case to the Court of Appeal and chose to personally present it because I believed the original sentence was Unduly Lenient. I’m pleased that the court has ordered Luis Fernando Balcazar Soto serve a prison term which is a more appropriate reflection of the dreadful harm that he has caused.