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Driver who killed two sisters gets four years

A teenager who killed two young sisters and maimed their playmate when he ploughed into them in his car was jailed for four years yesterday.

Robert Hoe, 19, had had his Ford Escort XR3 just one day when it mounted the pavement and killed Maria and Rachel Reed, aged eight and six, of South Bank, Middlesbrough, Cleveland, on Easter Sunday. Their friend Leigh-Ann Johns, now 10, lost both her legs and suffered serious internal injuries.

The three girls were walking hand-in-hand from a sweetshop in South Bank when the accident happened. Hoe, of Eston, Cleveland, was twice over the legal drink-drive limit and did not have a driving licence or insurance. He admitted two charges of causing death by dangerous driving when he appeared at Teesside Crown Court, where he was also banned from driving for six years.

Stephen Ashurst, for the prosecution, said Hoe had been seen speeding through the streets minutes before the crash. 'One witness saw him laughing and heard tyres screeching. Witnesses described him travelling at speeds of anything from 50 to 80mph.

Mr Ashurst said that Hoe had been on a binge the night before and his girlfriend told police he was still 'mortal drunk' the morning of the accident. He drank at least three more pints during the afternoon.

The court heard that the maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving was extended to 10 years last August. But Hoe's crimes were committed in April, when the maximum sentence was just five years.