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Driver who killed two passengers just months after passing test jailed for six years

28 Mar 2024 6 minute read
Handout photo issued by South Wales Police of Owain Hammett-George, 19, who has been jailed for six years at Swansea Crown Court. Photo South Wales Police/PA Wire

A teenager from Swansea killed two friends and seriously injured a third when he crashed his car while driving at more than double the speed limit, just three months after passing his test, a court heard.

Owain Hammett-George, 19, from Birchgrove, was jailed for six years at Swansea Crown Court on Thursday after admitting causing death by dangerous driving, and of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

The court heard Hammett-George was driving at speeds of up to 78mph on a 30mph road when his Alfa Romeo – which had a personalised plate reading OW11 AAN – left the road before crashing into a petrol station forecourt.

Ben Rogers and Kaitlyn Davies, both 19, were killed instantly, while Casey Thomas, then aged 17, sustained life-changing injuries during the incident on the B4436 in Bishopston, Swansea, on May 31 2022.

Speeding

Following the collision, it emerged that Hammett-George had been caught speeding just a week after passing his test in February 2022, but his father Dewi George took the blame to avoid him getting points on his licence.

Judge Geraint Walters, sentencing Hammett-George, said he had been driving at “grossly excessive speeds” at the time of the collision.

“On this particular evening, you were in your motor car with three of your young friends. You were showing off,” the judge told the defendant.

“You drove at grossly excessive speeds to the point where you lost control of the vehicle and immediately effectively extinguished the lives of two of those in the car.

“I have no shadow of a doubt that you purposefully took the decision to exceed the speed limit.

“The consequences of the speed and the subsequent collision were as such that two road traffic police officers, who sadly routinely attend cases of this sort, describe it as the worst case of damage they have ever seen to a motor vehicle.”

Passengers

The judge said the case raised the issue of whether recently qualified drivers should be allowed to carry passengers immediately after passing their tests.

Speaking to Hammett-George, who was aged 17 years and 10 months at the time of the collision, the judge said: “You were nowhere near ready to be entrusted with a motor car at the time that you were.

“You are immature and, in my judgment on the facts of this case as I read it, are overindulged by your parents.

“That in part is a factor in the fact that you are sitting there in front of me at the moment.

“You were overindulged – a car before you were fit to have one, out late in the evening with other youngsters in the car.

“Your parents were aware of the potential danger because there are messages passing between you and other family members that says so.

“Within a very short period of passing your test, that you were to be prosecuted for speeding – albeit for a modest increase in that case – it was a sense of what might be coming.

“The greatest act of indulgence is to take the responsibility for your conduct onto the shoulders of your own father.”

The court heard Dewi George had claimed he was driving the Alfa Romeo on February 28 2022 – seven days after his son passed his test – when it was caught travelling at 35mph in a 30mph limit in Swansea.

Following the fatal accident, police investigated the speeding offence and found George had been working in Cardiff at that time.

He was jailed for four months in July 2023 after admitting perverting the course of justice.

The judge added: “There may be good reasons for the Government to consider whether new drivers should be able to carry any passengers until a period of time has passed.

“It is not the first time I’ve said it, it probably will not be the last. You are not the only young man I have had to sentence in circumstances precisely like this.”

The court heard Hammett-George had collected Miss Davies and Miss Thomas from work in Swansea at about 10pm.

He was driving on the B4436 when he lost control of the car, which left the road, landed on its roof and then crashed into a concrete pillar by one of the pumps at Northway petrol station at about 11pm.

Hammett-George, along with Mr Rogers and Miss Davies, were ejected from the vehicle.

The defendant was not wearing a seatbelt, but had it buckled underneath him to stop the warning sounding when the incident took place.

Passing motorists and local residents immediately came to the aid of those injured, including administering CPR to Mr Rogers and Miss Davies, but their injuries were not survivable.

Prosecuting, Ian Wright said the vehicle was “unrecognisable” after the crash, with its engine block situated 15 metres away.

“The scene described is one of utter devastation,” Mr Wright told the court.

Hammett-George, who also sustained serious injuries in the collision, told officers at the scene: “I was doing 60 and I hit a pothole and it threw me to the right.”

However, Mr Wright said an investigation found no pothole and estimated that the defendant had been driving at speeds of between 70 and 78 mph on the 30mph limit road.

Messages found on Hammett-George’s mobile phone included his mother previously warning “black box going on your car” and saying she hoped he received further speeding fines “so you lose your job and then the car will 100% be off you”.

On February 26 – just five days after passing his test – a message believed to be from the defendant’s sister warned he was “putting everyone at risk”.

It added: “Do everyone a favour and pack it in please before it is too late.”

Victim personal statements from the families of Mr Rogers and Miss Davies, as well as a statement from Miss Thomas, were read to the court detailing the devastating impact of the crash.

Carla King, the mother of Mr Rogers, said her son was “full of kindness” and shared the “best advice”.

Kimberley Davies, the mother of Miss Davies, said of her daughter: “She was just an amazing human being – vibrant, bubbly, with a wonderful sense of humour”.

Miss Thomas told how she had experienced serious injuries from the collision and had been left with anxiety, adding: “I will never be the same outgoing person I was”.

Representing Hammett-George, Alex Greenwood said his client expressed the “deepest and most profound remorse” for what happened.

In a letter to the court, the defendant wrote: “If there was any way I could turn back time and prevent this tragedy from happening I would do so in a heartbeat.”


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Jeff
Jeff
20 days ago

Out in 3 then. two live cost three years. And his family aware of his lack of ability.
Disgusting.

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