A SOLDIER has appeared in court charged with causing the deaths of two promising teenage athletes in a road crash.

Stacey Burrows, 16, was on a training run with 17-year-old Lucy Pygott when they were hit by a black Ford Focus in Queen's Avenue, Aldershot, Hampshire, last November 8.

Michael Casey, of St Paul's Road, Tottenham, north London, appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates' Court charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

The 24-year-old, wearing a blue suit, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth.

He did not enter pleas to the two charges but the court was told he was likely to enter a plea when the case is next heard at Winchester Crown Court on April 13.

Casey was released on unconditional bail until then.

District Judge Phillip Gillibrand expressed his sympathy to relatives of the two victims who attended the short hearing.

He said: "These are dreadful cases, I would like to pass on my sympathy to you. I do not know the incident but I myself lost my brother in a road traffic accident.

"I know the trauma and the anguish you must be going through, I send you my sympathy."

As he spoke, a member of the public knocked on the window of the public gallery and the judge asked them to leave the court and for people to "respect the rule of law and due process" in a case where "emotions are flying high".

The district judge told the defendant: "This is a matter that must be dealt with in the Crown Court so I am sending these cases and you to Winchester Crown Court. You must attend on April 13."

The girls were members of Aldershot, Farnham and District Athletic Club.

Relatives of Stacey said following her death that her motto in life was "work hard". And Lucy's family said she had been an "absolute joy to us" and they felt lucky to have had her as part of their family for 17 years.