A YOUNG driver who was jailed for killing two teenagers with his car has seen his appeal against a nine-year prison sentence dismissed by the Court of Appeal today with judges saying he "deserved every day" in prison.
Samuel Etherington admitted causing the deaths of Jasmine Allsop, 14 and her 16-year-old friend Olivia Lewry by dangerous driving last November in Gosport.
Etherington, who had a 'poor driving record', had taken ketamine and mephedrone before crashing into the girls in his modified Honda Civic.
Jasmine Allsop (left) and Olivia Lewry were killed last November
He was locked up for nine years and banned from driving for seven at Winchester Crown Court in February, after Crown lawyers accepted his guilty pleas to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.
He had denied two counts of manslaughter.
The 21-year-old, of Stoners Close, Gosport, today challenged his sentence at London's Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing it was 'too long'.
They said the starting point of 12 years adopted by the sentencing judge was too close to the maximum 14-year term for the offence.
But his appeal was dismissed by three of the country's most senior judges, who said the term was 'fully merited' in light of his 'deliberately bad and dangerous' driving and the devastating consequences for the families of his victims.
Sir Richard Henriques, sitting with Lord Justice Treacy and Mr Justice Openshaw, told the court the crash happened shortly after 4am on November 3 last year.
He said Etherington, an unemployed sports coach, was driving a modified Honda Civic, which had lowered suspension and an exhaust system designed to make the car noisier, in Ann's Hill Road.
The girls were outside and shouted at him as he drove past them, revving his engine, and bystanders commented that he was 'going to kill someone', the court heard.
He then turned the car around and drove directly at the girls, who were standing in the road with their arms around each others' shoulders.
Sir Richard said the evidence suggested that, had Etherington chosen to brake as he crossed a nearby bridge - from where the girls would have been clearly visible in the road - he would have avoided them.
But the 'black box', fitted to his car for insurance purposes, showed he had in fact accelerated from 61 to 71mph and he had reached 65mph when he ploughed into the girls.
Instead of stopping to help his victims, Etherington sped away and his engine could be heard in the background of a 999 call made from the scene.
The judge told the court that Jasmine was killed outright by the impact, while Olivia died six hours later in hospital 'holding her mother's hand'.
Etherington was arrested after he rang police from a nearby petrol station and tests showed he had taken ketamine and mephedrone in the 24 hours before the crash.
Initially, he tried to blame the girls, saying they had 'jumped out' into the road, but his lies were uncovered by the black box recording.
Sir Richard said that, while Etherington was young, had shown evidence of remorse and told a probation officer he wished he had died, the crown court judge had to balance that against the 'devastating effect' on the girls' families.
He added: "Two young people died. Family impact statements are invariably moving, but in this case the effect on both families has been devastating.
"The judge chose his words well when he spoke of the agony and heartbreak caused single-handedly by this appellant.
"None of these families will ever be the same."
The court heard Etherington had previous convictions for bad driving, including one incident where he swerved around a police officer who tried to stop him.
Dismissing his appeal, the Appeal Court judge said: "This was a prolonged course of deliberately bad and dangerous driving. He knew the girls were in the road and deliberately increased his speed.
"He failed to brake, when it must have been obvious that tragedy was imminent; he failed to stop after the accident, he lied to police and sought to blame the girls.
"The sentence cannot be faulted - indeed, it was, in our judgment, fully merited. This appeal is dismissed."