Manchester

Oldham hit-and-run: Man jailed for causing cousins' deaths

Gabor Hegadus Image copyright Greater Manchester Police
Image caption Gabor Hegadus, 38, braked and swerved but hit the girls at "no less" than 29mph, the court heard

A driver who admitted causing the deaths of two cousins by careless driving in a hit-and-run crash on New Year's Eve has been jailed.

Gabor Hegedus, 38, was driving 40mph in a 30mph zone moments before he ploughed into Zaneta Krokova, 11, and Helina Kotlarova, 12.

The pair were holding hands as they crossed the road in Oldham.

Hegedus was sentenced to four years at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court.

The 38-year-old - who has a string of convictions in his native Hungary including robbery, motoring and dishonesty offences - braked and swerved but hit the girls at "no less" than 29mph, the court heard.

He was disqualified from driving for six years.

The girls, originally from the Czech Republic, had just come out of a shop near their homes on Ashton Road when the crash happened on 31 December.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Helina Kotlarova, 12, (left) and her 11-year-old cousin Zaneta Krokova died in the crash

Helina died at the scene after being thrown into the opposite carriageway and hit by another vehicle.

Zaneta was thrown more than 65ft (20m) by the impact and died in hospital on 2 January.

Some family members left the court as CCTV of the crash was shown.

After the sentencing, Zaneta's father, Milan Kroka, said his family was still struggling to come to terms with the "devastating tragedy".

Image caption Floral tributes were left at the scene on Ashton Road

He added: "The incident continues to have a huge impact on mine and the rest of the family's lives, and ultimately, today's sentencing will not undo what's happened.

"Zaneta was so young and full of life, it is still hard to believe at times she is no longer with us."

Robert Kotlar, Helena's father, said he and his wife Sylva had been handed a "life sentence" as they have to "live every day without our beloved daughter because of what the driver did".

Their pain would not diminish as a result of the sentencing, he added.

The court heard that, after CCTV analysis, Hegedus was charged with careless rather than dangerous driving.

His sight of the girls had been partially obscured by them crossing the road behind a van and he had only half a second to react, the court heard.

Nicola Gatto, mitigating, said Hegedus was "truly sorry".

Image copyright Greater Manchester Police
Image caption Janos Kalayanos, 50, David Orsos, 19, and Zoltan Peto, 49, were jailed for perverting the course of justice

At an earlier hearing, Hegedus also admitted failing to stop, disposing of the vehicle, failing to report an accident and driving without a licence.

Another man, David Orsos, 19, was sentenced to 20 months in a young offenders institute after pleading guilty to a single charge of perverting the course of justice.

Zoltan Peto, 49, was jailed for two years and one month for the same charge.

Janos Kalayanos, 50, was sentenced to 21 months for two counts of perverting the course of justice.

All four men have been recommended for deportation.

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