DANGEROUS drivers who kill should face tougher sentences, says the widower of former Bolton mayoress Gay Wharton.

Assad Hussain and Wasim Iqbal were racing each other when they killed his wife as she crossed Chorley New Road. Stephen Wharton says the penalty for such crimes should be increased to life in prison.

At the moment the maximum sentence a judge can impose is 14 years in jail, but that is reduced if the defendant pleads guilty and further still if other mitigation is taken into account.

Currently life sentences are given to those who commit murder and sometimes for the most serious offences of rape or armed robbery, although last year the government announced reforms which could see drivers who kill others after speeding, racing or using a phone, facing the same penalty.

Announcing their plans in September, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: "This government has been clear that punishments must fit the crime, but too often families tell us this isn't the case with killer drivers.

"We will bring forward legislation early next year to introduce life sentences for dangerous drivers who kill on our roads, and ensure they feel the full force of the law."

The legislation is due to be put before Parliament later this year, but the move has not come in time for Mrs Wharton's family.

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court Judge John Potter sentenced Hussain to seven years and four months in prison and and Iqbal to four years and eight months behind bars.

READ MORE: Dangerous drivers who killed Gay Wharton are jailed

They had been racing each other immediately before Hussain headed through a red light and ploughed into Mrs Wharton as she used a pedestrian crossing.

Both Audi drivers had previous convictions for dangerous driving. At the time Iqbal was banned from the roads and Hussain was awaiting sentence for drink driving.

Assad Hussain and Wasim Iqbal

Assad Hussain and Wasim Iqbal

Devastated Mr Wharton says he is disappointed that Hussain and Iqbal could not have been subject to the new tougher sentence.

"I don't feel we got justice," he said.

But he said he accepts the judge's hands were tied and could not give Hussain and Iqbal longer sentences and welcomes government moves to introduce life sentences for dangerous drivers.

To back up his views that more should be done to protect the public Mr Wharton has started an online petition, which he plans to present to Bolton North East MP Mark Logan, calling for those who cause death by dangerous driving to face life in prison.

He said the loss of his wife has been unbearable.

Mr Wharton told Judge Potter that the loss of his wife of 19 years had been "unbearable".

"What happened that day should never have happened," said Mr Wharton.

"Assad and Iqbal should never have been driving that day as they were and there is no excuse for what they have done.

"It could have been anyone on that crossing - anyone's child or even their own family.

"I want their sentences to reflect what they have done and, whilst it will not bring Gay back, I want to feel as though there has been some justice for what was such a senseless and preventable act."

View Mr Wharton's Change.org petition here