The family of a Warwickshire farmer who was killed by a car thief last night said the legal system had failed them after he was jailed for 12 years.

Describing the sentence as lenient, Michael Boffey's relatives condemned as a travesty the decision not to charge Ashley Squires with murder and expressed disbelief that he had been freed early from a previous sentence to launch the "criminal expedition" during which the 61-year-old died.

Squires (22), of Styon Road, Leicester, pleaded guilty last week at Birmingham Crown Court to manslaughter and conspiracy.

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Squires' brother Frederick (24), also of Styon Road, was jailed for five-and-a-half years for assisting an offender and conspiracy to steal vehicles.

The Crown accepted Ashley Squires' plea of not guilty to murder because no one else witnessed the moment when Mr Boffey was hit and crushed under the wheels of his own Land Rover after it was stolen from the yard of his farm in Withybrook, Warwickshire, last August.

The court was told last week that Ashley Squires killed Mr Boffey, a pig farmer, after being freed early from a 42-month sentence for thefts from farms, including one in which another farmer was nearly run over.

Stephen Linehan QC, said the traveller and his brother had targeted at least seven other farms before and after the killing.

"Had he served the full term he would have been in prison until September this year," Mr Linehan observed.

After yesterday's sentencing, Mr Boffey's son William launched a stinging attack on the decision to release early the brothers from previous sentences.

"Considering Ashley and Frederick Squires' career of crime we cannot believe they were released early.

"We have to question the wisdom and professional competence of the agencies and individuals involved in this," he said.

"However, these agencies only implement this Govern-ment's policy. Therefore we call upon the Government to review this."

Mr Boffey added: "My dad's death was not 'just one of those things' - on that fateful day it is clear to us that Ashley Squires could see my dad well before he ran him down.

"We believe he knew exactly what he was doing and the likely consequences of his actions.

"The legal system has failed us - today's sentence is not enough for this callous individual."

The farmer's widow, Bernice, said she would have liked to have seen Ashley Squires jailed for life.

Mrs Boffey, who stressed that Warwickshire Police had done a "marvellous" job, said: "I was quite satisfied with 12 years but ... it's not going to be 12 years because he could be let out after six.

"I am not happy with the legal system, bearing in mind the fact that he has done this before and was let out early - my husband should still be alive."