Nine years for driver who mowed down and killed two teenage girls

Samuel Etherington, 20, from Gosport has been jailed for nine years after he deliberately drove towards and subsequently killed two teenage girls in the early hours of the morning last November.
Winchester Crown Court court heard how Etherington was driving on the wrong side of the road when he hit the best friends at about 65mph as they stood in the middle of the road with arms around each other.

Jasmine, 14, died at the scene but her friend Olivia, 16, was taken to hospital but later died of her injuries.

Etherington was found to have taken the horse tranquiliser ketamine and chemical-based drug mephedrone 24 hours before the accident but the court ruled that there was no evidence his drug consumption had affected his driving ability.

The unemployed sports coach was unhurt in the incident and had originally denied the two counts of manslaughter. However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) accepted his guilty plea of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

According to the Portsmouth News, prosecutor Nicholas Haggan QC said the CPS had decided it was not in the public interest to pursue the manslaughter charges.

The court heard how Etherington was driving a modified Honda Civic at the time that featured a "boy racer" exhaust system to make it louder.

He had a driven a friend home in the area when he saw the two girls and began revving his engine.

Jasmine and Olivia reportedly hurled abuse at the defendant before he drove off towards a railway bridge.

A few minutes late he returned and sped towards the teenagers – a friend reported he shouted for the girls to get out of the road but they didn't move.

According to the Portsmouth News, prosecutor Mr Haggan QC said: "This defendant deliberately drove at the two girls, perhaps intending to frighten them because they had been shouting abuse at him when he had passed by in the opposite direction a short time before, of perhaps simply because he was showing off.

"The defendant could have stopped before the collision had he chosen to do so.

"Instead he continued to accelerate, he drove at the girls, leaving it far too late to brake or swerve around them.

"The vehicle struck the girls at high speed, resulting in their tragic deaths."

Etherington fled the scene but later handed himself into police.

Jailing Etherington, Judge Guy Boney QC said it was one of the most serious cases of death by dangerous driving seen by the courts for a very long time, reported the BBC.

He said: "You are quite simply a menace behind the steering wheel of car.

"For you, the sentence which has to be passed will be a life-changing event. For your two victims, it's worse than that.

"For them is was a life-ending event, their lives snuffed out before they had barely started."
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