A 24-year-old unlicensed driver, who was jailed yesterday for the deaths of three people killed in a Boxing Day smash, says he hopes for the forgiveness from the crash's only survivor.
Ricky Hepworth was sentenced to eight years for three counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injuries by dangerous driving at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday.
Hepworth, of Newmarche Drive, Askern, was at the wheel of a Volvo S60 when it ploughed into a group of pedestrians in Sutton Road, Askern on December 26 last year.
Andrew Tomlinson, 48, and his wife Faye Tomlinson, 54, died following the collision, along with Mandy Deere, 54.
Mrs Deere’s husband, John Deere, 57, was left critically ill in hospital and has suffered life changing injuries.
In a letter of 'remorse' read out in court during the sentencing Hepworth said he hoped for the forgiveness of Mr Deere.
The letter read: “In future, I wish to meet him and ask him for forgiveness. If he wishes to see me I want to tell him how sorry I am.
“I’m very remorseful for what I’ve done. I still can’t get my head around it.
“I would like to say how sorry I am to the families and tell them how I wish I could turn back the clock. I would never have got in that car.
“I did not intend to do this, and would do anything to make this right.
“I hope the families will forgive me in some way so I can go back to living with my family who love and miss me.”
Defending, David Webster told the court how Askern was a ‘tight-knit Doncaster village’ that Hepworth also belonged to.
He continued: “Most of the inhabitants either know or know of the defendant.
“He has connections or mutual friendships with some of these victims.
“He knows the level of continued pain and suffering his actions has caused. He is very, very, very sorry.”
Sentencing at Sheffield Crown Court, Judge Julian Goose said: “You saw those four people, who had been enjoying their evening, and ploughed into them – and by doing so you killed three people.
"The force of the accident was such that you caused another person to be thrown 2.1 metres high into the playground of the school nearby.
“I cannot imagine the grief those families have felt since that night.”
The court heard how Hepworth was travelling nearly three times over the 20mph speed limit.
Prosecutor Simon Kealey told the court how moments before the fatal collision a 15-year-old passenger had told him to slow down – but he ignored the request.
While toxicology reports showed that Hepworth was under the legal limit for alcohol levels, the court heard how he had drunk four Budvar beers and smoked cannabis in the hours leading up to the collision.
Further blood tests also found traces of ecstasy and cocaine in his system.
Prior to the crash the court heard how Hepworth had gone to the Red Lion pub in Askern with his mother, who had given him the car’s keys to look after because she was planning to ‘have a few drinks’ and would not be driving again that evening.
Without his mother’s permission, Hepworth left to pick up a 15-year-old friend and drove to the Jet Garage in Selby Road, Askern to pick up a second 15-year-old. Hepworth had neither a driving licence nor insurance.
Mr Kealey said: “The back seat passenger said the defendant was showing off. He was wheel spinning and revving the engine.
“As they drove back to the village he continued to ‘show off’ and was driving at speed.”
Mr and Mrs Tomlinson and best friends Mr and Mrs Deere were walking home from ‘a night of celebration’ at the Askern Miners’ Welfare Club in Manor Way when they were struck.
Following the crash, Hepworth dropped off his passengers and then drove to Askern Lake, where he parked the car and threw the keys in the lake.
In the early hours of December 27, he phoned the police to tell them about the collision saying: “I’ve knocked three people down.”
In a statement, the Tomlinson family said: “We miss mum and Andrew terribly, our lives will never be the same again, all through the actions of a driver who shouldn’t have been driving.”
A statement from the Deere family said of John: “He remains in hospital, he has not only lost his wife of 30 years but also his two best friends.”
Hepworth, who wept as he was sentenced, must serve four years in custody before he is eligible for release.