AN unemployed sports coach has been jailed for nine years after pleading guilty to killing two young girls he ran over in his ''boy-racer'' car while driving at 65mph in a 30mph zone after taking illegal drugs.
Samuel Etherington, 20, of Stoners Close, Gosport, was originally charged with the manslaughter of Jasmine Allsop, 14, and Olivia Lewry, 16, but the Crown Prosecution Service accepted his pleas to the lesser charge of causing death by dangerous driving.
As well as the prison sentence, he was banned from driving for seven years and ordered to retake his driving test after that period.
Jailing Etherington, who appeared in court in a black shirt and with short-cropped hair, 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.
He said: ''You are quite simply a menace behind the steering wheel of car.''
Etherington was driving a modified green Honda Civic that hit Jasmine and Olivia in Ann's Hill Road, Gosport, at about 4.15am on November 3 last year.
Jasmine, who lived just yards from where the crash happened, died at the scene while her friend Olivia, was taken to the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth where she died later.
Following the sentence this afternoon, senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Dick Pearson said: “Samuel Etherington behaved with total disregard for the lives of two teenage girls on the night of November the third last year.
“His dangerous actions behind the wheel led to the deaths of Jasmine Allsop and Olivia Lewry – a tragedy for which Mr Etherington has admitted his guilt.
“We’d like to thank the families of Jasmine and Olivia for their immense courage throughout this exceptionally traumatic case. Our thoughts remain with next-of-kin.
“The community felt a deep sense of shock over the loss of two well-known popular girls whose memories prompted profound expressions of grief from the public.
“Police are grateful to many community leaders and organisations for their co-operation and support in helping people come to terms with the tragedy and pay their respects to Jasmine and Olivia.
“Hampshire Constabulary would also like to recognise the diligence of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in bringing a complex case before the courts.”
Ian Harris, Head of the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex Complex Casework Unit said: “Following written admission of his full responsibility for the tragic deaths of Olivia Lewry and Jasmine Allsop and following very careful consideration with Olivia and Jasmine’s families, we have accepted those pleas.
“Although, we accept that he did not intend to kill Olivia and Jasmine, the fact remains that he did kill them as a result of a completely unnecessary and genuinely appalling piece of deliberate dangerous driving, exacerbated by his decision to drive having consumed ketamine and mephedrone earlier that night.
“No words can convey the suffering that his actions have caused and no sentence can compensate for the dreadful loss of two young lives.
“I would like to thank Hampshire Constabulary for their thorough investigation but most of all I would like to pay tribute to Olivia and Jasmine’s families for their dignity and fortitude in such tragic circumstances."
After the sentencing, the family of Olivia Lewry paid tribute to the people who have supported them since their “terrible loss”.
A statement issued through Hampshire Constabulary, said: “To their family members, friends and work colleagues for their support and continued support in coping through this difficult time.
“Also to Olivia's friends who have kept in contact and raised money through the raffle at St Vincent College and the music festival with Motiv8 at Brune Park Community School and to all the local businesses and traders in the Gosport area who donated to these events.
“To the police and paramedics who arrived at the initial incident, which must have been an awful scene to attend, and for their hard work in keeping their daughter alive before she was conveyed to the QA Hospital.
“They would also like to thank the hard work and commitment the police have given into the investigation of what happened in the early morning of that day and to the police Family Liaison Officers (FLOs) who have been supportive and compassionate and keeping them updated at every stage of the investigation.
“To the doctors, nurses, and theatre staff at the QA hospital who fought so courageously to save Olivia's life and to Clare Cobb at Co-op funeral directors for her compassion and support and ensuring the day of the funeral ran smoothly, and to Zodiac Florist for the beautiful flowers on the day.
“To Reverend Andy Davies who delivered an excellent service for Olivia making the mourners not only cry but also laugh and showing everyone a way forward in dealing with the loss and ensuring Olivia had a good send off.
“The help of all these people has been greatly appreciated and given a lot of comfort not only to what has just happened but also for the future.”