Man who killed two young cousins in New Year hit-and-run jailed for four years

A man who mowed down and killed two young cousins in a hit-and-run on New Year's Eve has been jailed for four years.

Gabor Hegedus, 39, was doing 40mph in a 30mph zone moments before he ploughed into Helina Kotlarova, 12, and Zaneta Krokova, 11, who were heading home for a New Year party with family, Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester heard.

Hegedus, who has a string of convictions in his native Hungary, including robbery, motoring and dishonesty offences, braked and swerved but hit the girls at "no less" than 29mph.

Helina was thrown into the opposite carriageway and hit by another vehicle coming the other way, while Zaneta was thrown more than 65ft (20m) by the impact, both suffering massive injuries.

Helina was pronounced dead at the scene and Zaneta died in hospital two days after the incident, which happened at around 7.10pm on December 31 2016 in Ashton Road in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

The court heard that, instead of stopping, Hegedus, who had no licence, sped off and, with the help of others, later dumped the Peugeot car and reported it stolen but was caught on CCTV and arrested the next day.

Both girls had moved to the UK from their native Czech Republic and their mothers gave emotional statements via an interpreter to the court before Hegedus was sentenced.

Some members of the family left court as CCTV of the crash was shown.

Sylva Kotlarova, Helina's mother, said her eight other children were heartbroken.

She said both girls, friends and cousins, were on their way home nearby for a family party to see in the New Year when another daughter, Michaela, ran to their door to say there had been an accident and she rushed to help.

"I will never forget this scene," she said.

"My husband was unable to look at such a thing.

"I started to shake her. Some English lady was trying to calm me down. I was pleading with the doctor to try to help her but it was not possible.

"It is very difficult to think I will never see my daughter or I can never give her a cuddle."

The other girl's mother, also called Zaneta, said her brother, aged two, struggles to understand where his big sister has gone and talks to her ashes at the family home, "like it's his sister".

She added: "We feel like this person has given us a life sentence and to our daughter just gave death."

The court heard that, after CCTV analysis, Hegedus was charged with careless rather than dangerous driving. His sight of the girls had been partially obscured by them crossing the road behind a van coming the other way.

He had sight of them for just two seconds and only half a second to react, the court heard.

Nicola Gatto, mitigating, said Hegedus was "truly sorry".

Hegedus later admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of perverting the course of justice and was jailed for four years and banned from driving for five years.

David Orsos, 19, and Zoltan Peto, 49, both pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice by helping Gabor to dump the van and report it stolen. Orsos was jailed for 20 months and Peto for 25 months.

Janos Kalanyos, 50, was jailed for 21 months for the same offence after providing a false alibi to police for Hegedus.

All four men came to the UK from Hungary to work and all four had previous convictions, including Kalanyos for rape and murder, the court heard.

Jailing them, Judge John Potter said: "The lives of these two young, happy and kind children were taken away and their family's bright hopes and expectations for their children's futures, extinguished.

"Perhaps, just perhaps, today's proceedings will help to bring some small sense of closure to those who feel this loss most keenly."

He said he would recommend the defendants be deported after serving their sentences but it was "not clear" if he had the power to do so and said it would be a matter for the Home Office.

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