An unlicensed driver was going more than twice the speed limit when he killed three pedestrians in a Boxing Day horror crash.
Ricky Hepworth, aged 24, was driving at more than 50mph on a 20mph road when he hit couples Andy and Fay Tomlinson and Mandy and John Deere around 11pm on December 26 in Askern, near Doncaster.
Mr and Mrs Tomlinson, aged 48 and 54, and Mrs Deere, 54, were killed. Mr Deere, 57, was left with life-changing injuries.
Hepworth wept yesterday as he admitted causing their deaths by dangerous driving.
Following the hearing, police have revealed Hepworth was breaking the speed limit when the crash happened.
Police Sergeant Donna Roden, the investigating officer, said: “I am pleased that Hepworth has pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity saving the families of those killed in the awful events of Boxing Day any further distress.
“A huge hole has been left in the lives of those affected by Hepworth’s incredibly irresponsible actions which saw him driving a car without permission, a licence or any insurance.
“Hepworth was also driving in excess of 50 mph in a 20mph zone when the collision occurred.
“I hope in some small part that the conviction will help the families of those killed and seriously injured begin to rebuild their lives.”
Hepworth drove into the two couples by Askern Spa Junior School on Sutton Road – around a mile from his home address of Newmarche Drive.
He left the scene of the collision but was arrested a short time later.
Hepworth was in tears as he admitted three counts of death by dangerous driving and one charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving as he appeared via video link from custody.
He also pleaded guilty to charges of failing to stop after a road traffic accident, driving a vehicle without a licence and using a vehicle without insurance.
Friends and relatives of the victims watched the hearing unfold from a packed public gallery at Sheffield Crown Court.
His Honour Judge Paul Watson QC told Hepworth to expect a ‘very long sentence’ for the killings.
David Webster, representing Hepworth, said his client deserved ‘enormous credit’ for his early guilty pleas.
He said his client is a ‘young man who is still relatively young in terms of maturity’.
Mr Webster said Hepworth understands he is facing an ‘inevitable substantial custodial sentence’.
Simon Kealey, prosecuting, said sentencing could not yet take place as investigations into precisely what happened continue.
He said: “There remains a number of areas which require confirmation and investigation to present the full picture of the evening.”
Mr Kealey said evidence from post-mortems and car manufacturers Volvo, as well as victim impact statements from the families of those killed need to be collected.
Judge Watson ordered a pre-sentence report to be carried out on the defendant.
He told Hepworth: “There will be a very long sentence when you return.”
Earlier this month, the families of the victims released a statement expressing their thanks to the community of Askern after money was raised towards the funeral costs and hundreds of floral tributes laid at the scene of the crash.
The statement added: “We are extremely humbled by the number of people who have donated, laid flowers, and attended the recent memorial to support our family and offer their condolences.
“Boxing Day’s tragic events have devastated our family, changing our lives forever, leaving behind nine children, 19 grandchildren, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews, who are completely heartbroken. There is now a huge hole in our family which will never be repaired.”