A GRIEVING mum has criticised the decision not to jail a man who was a front seat passenger in the car in which her teenage daughter was killed.

Michael Shone, 19, of Elm Road, High Wycombe, was given 18 months probation and 80 hours community service at Aylesbury Crown Court on Thursday after admitting aggravated vehicle taking. He was also banned from driving for two years.

The court heard that he was sitting in the front of the Vauxhall Astra which smashed into a wall and killed 14-year-old Melanie Martin in May last year.

Melanie's mum, Linda Sheller, 37, of Bank Street, High Wycombe, said: "He should have been inside. The minimum I'd say he should have got is five years."

"I think he should have gone inside because even though he wasn't driving he was still responsible."

Melanie was killed on May 27 last year when the driver of the Astra, in which she was a back seat passenger, Michael North, 22, of Bedder Road, High Wycombe, had been following Gordon McKay, 19, of Cherry Street, High Wycombe, who was driving another Astra, which had also been taken without consent, the court heard.

In Coates Lane, a 30mph zone in Downley, McKay successfully negotiated a right hand bend, but North, who was driving at 46mph, lost control and smashed into a wall, killing the schoolgirl.

North was jailed in December for three-and-a-half years for causing Melanie's death by dangerous driving. The other driver, McKay, received 21 months detention for unlawful taking whilst disqualified and three burglaries, all of which he admitted.

But Shone, who has learning difficulties and behavioural problems, was told by sentencing judge Terence Maher: "As a passenger you effectively had no control over the driving, and the responsibility for the dangerous driving is that of the driver, who has been dealt with.

"The conclusion that I have come to is that there is just about room for treating you in a merciful way."

The court heard that Shone was a vulnerable person who was haunted by the tragedy. But divorcee Mrs Sheller told Midweek: "I don't feel too good that he's out and about. It makes me sad and angry."

Mrs Sheller last spoke to her daughter about half an hour before the crash.

"I saw Melanie when she came in at about 11 o'clock that night," she said. "She popped in for something to eat. I said 'Don't be in too late' and she said 'I won't.'"

Melanie's mother says her family has struggled to cope since the accident, and their anguish will be compounded by what would have been Melanie's 15th birthday on Valentine's Day.

"I'm going to go up to her grave and do something," Mrs Sheller said.

"I'm not quite sure what yet - something to mark her birthday."