A SOLDIER who ploughed into two promising teenage athletes after drinking with colleagues has been jailed for six years.

Michael Casey, who admitted causing death by dangerous driving, was over the drink-drive limit when he went through red lights at a pedestrian crossing near his barracks in Aldershot on November 8, 2016.

Lucy Pygott, 17 and from Hartley Wintney, and Stacey Burrows, 16 and from Farnham, were killed when the car struck them, whilst they were out running with Aldershot, Farnham and District Athletic Club.

The 24-year-old, of 4 Rifles, had not seen the red light because he had been distracted by vomit left in the passenger area of the car by a colleague he had given a lift to earlier, Winchester Crown Court heard.

The two friends, who were taking part in a training session with their running club, had been crossing the road with a larger group at the pedestrian crossing to get from the stadium to the recreation ground, when the collision happened at 7.10pm.

Stacey and Lucy had waited until the traffic lights were red and the green man signalled before they started to cross.

Both girls suffered fatal injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.

The court was told that Casey was arrested at the scene and following extensive investigations by the Serious Collision Investigation Unit he was charged in February.

The judge was told investigations showed that Casey was over the drink-drive limit and had been speeding when the collision happened.

The court also heard that results from detailed scene examinations by the Forensic Collision Investigation Unit established that there would have been at least six seconds between the amber traffic light first illuminating and the girls starting to cross, giving Casey at least six seconds to react to the presence of the crossing and the pedestrians.
Casey was sentenced to six years for each count of causing death by dangerous driving, to run concurrent.

He was also disqualified from driving for ten years.

After the sentencing Sgt Mark Furse, senior investigating officer, said: "This is a truly tragic case which has had a huge impact on everyone who knew Stacey and Lucy.

"Both had such promising futures ahead of them but those were so cruelly ripped away from them because of Mr Casey’s stupidity and recklessness behind the wheel.

"Now the devastated families of Stacey and Lucy are forced to live on without them, knowing that their heartbreak could have so easily been avoided if Mr Casey had made the right decision and not driven that evening.

"As the court heard, not only was Mr Casey over the drink-drive limit, witnesses from the scene told our officers that he was travelling significantly above the 30mph speed limit and he himself admitted he was distracted.

"Let this be a warning to anyone who thinks that these are risks worth taking and that this will never happen to them.

"Driving while under the influence of alcohol leads to poor judgement, increased risk-taking and ultimately in this case, the death of two young girls.

"It is not worth the risk, it could happen to you and not only will you spend time in prison, you will have to live with the fact that you have taken someone’s life and destroyed countless others.” 

Paying tribute to Lucy after the sentencing her family said: "Lucy was a truly exceptional girl; in appearance, personality, achievements and potential.

"She should have been allowed to enjoy many more happy years."