The mother of a Birmingham University student who died in a hit-and-run has condemned as an insult the 18-month prison term handed out yesterday to her daughter's killer.

Police and safety campaigners also criticised the sentence on Jaswinder Lakhvinder Singh, who admitted causing the death of 20-year-old medical student Abigail Craen (pictured) by dangerous driving.

After the case at Birmingham Crown Court, Detective Chief Inspector Sally Holmes, the officer in charge of the inquiry, said the maximum sentence was 14 years but Singh could be out in four months because of the time already spent in custody.

She feared the sentence would fail to act as a deterrent and police are to approach the CPS with a view to an appeal.

Singh, who has a previous conviction for drink-driving, handed himself in to police eight days after the crash and following the publication, at the request of Abigail's mother, Susan, a photograph of her daughter lying dead.

Singh (45), of Ward End Road, Ward End, Birmingham, had pleaded guilty in January to dangerous driving, failing to stop after an accident, failing to report an accident and driving without insurance.

Amjad Nawaz, prosecuting, said Abigail was on a crossing near her halls of residence on the Pershore Road at 5.30pm on October 30 last year when she was hit by a Ford Mondeo.

Witnesses reported hearing a loud bang. "Abigail's body was seen to be thrown into the air and catapulted. The body of Abigail was found 30 metres away from the pelican crossing," he said.

Abigail was taken to hospital and tests showed she suffered irreversible brain injuries. She died at 1pm the next day and in a desperate bid to persuade her killer to hand himself in, Mrs Craen allowed pictures taken of her daughter after death to be published by the media.

Saleena Mahmood, defending, said Singh (pictured), who was unemployed and separated from his wife, was fully aware of the suffering he had caused Abigail's family. He did not stop because he had no insurance, but when he heard Abigail had died he handed himself in. She said he was "ashamed" and "guilt-ridden by his actions".

The court heard that in April 2004 Solihull magistrates banned Singh from driving for 12 months after he admitted drink-driving.

Mrs Craen, aged 47, who attended court with her partner, Mike Norris, aged 42 and her 16-year-old daughter, Tabitha, broke down in tears when the sentence was read out yesterday.

"This sentence is an insult to her," she said in a statement afterwards. "She is dead, our lives are desolated and the man who killed her has a small interruption to his life.

"How many more deaths will it take before hit and runs are taken seriously by the courts? This is no deterrent and no punishment."

Det Chief Insp Holmes said: "I would not wholly agree with the sentence. It does not act as a deterrent for dangerous driving. Taken in isolation I worry about the message this sends out."

Roger Vincent, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said he was "shocked" by the "completely inadequate" sentence.