Man jailed for killing 19-year-old woman in crash
A man has been jailed for 10 years for killing a 19-year-old woman in a crash. Luke Hawkes, 28, was driving a white Ford Transit van at high speed when it went through a red light and hit two cars on the A38 Taunton Road, near Bridgwater, Somerset, on 8 November. Bethany Branson, a passenger in one of the two vehicles, died at the scene.
Taunton Crown Court was told Hawkes, of Wadham Close, Bridgwater, had been heard on police cameras saying: “I’m glad she is dead, she deserved it.”
Hawkes admitted causing death by dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen. He was also handed a driving disqualification for 12 years and seven months.
Paying tribute to their “big-hearted” and “compassionate” daughter after the sentencing, Ms Branson’s parents, Amy and Ben Branson, said “no sentence length will change Bethany’s future or make our own future okay”.
The court heard prior to the crash, Hawkes had been involved in another road traffic collision further up the A38, near the Showground Roundabout, on the same evening.
He drove away from the scene before colliding with the car in which Ms Branson was travelling, the court was told.
A further three people, including Hawkes, suffered minor injuries. The court heard Hawkes had also refused to complete a breathalyser or swab test for drugs and alcohol at the roadside.
Body cameras worn by Avon and Somerset Police officers recorded Hawkes saying: “I hope I killed someone. Oh well, you know what, I will get three, four, five years. Hopefully I killed them.
Sentencing him on 27 January, His Honour Judge Paul Cook said: “You can tell this was a prolonged, consistent and deliberate course of driving. it was obvious that you were drunk.
“You created a sea of carnage and then left. You were then heard saying ‘I’m glad she is dead, she deserved it’, and ‘Hopefully I killed someone’,” he added. Hawkes’ sentence is among the first to take place under new sentencing guidelines, which allows judges to give tougher sentences for dangerous and careless driving deaths, increasing the maximum term from 14 years to life imprisonment for dangerous driving.
Ms Branson’s parents also said after sentencing: “We are beyond heartbroken and that is a heartbreak that we will carry with us for as long as we remain on this earth.
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