A hit-and-run driver who mowed down and killed an elderly couple has been jailed for just two years.
Grandparents Ann, 75, and Lawrence Nickerson, 79, who were childhood sweethearts, died just months before their 60th wedding anniversary.
Speeding driver Asif Hussain knocked them over in his Vauxhall Corsa VXR as they crossed a road in Jesmond, a Newcastle suburb, and left them for dead.
The Nickersons were walking towards Santana’s restaurant, where they were going for a meal to cheer themselves up after learning their son’s cancer had returned and was terminal.
Hussain, 23, from Fenham, Newcastle, was jailed for two years on Friday.
After he was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court, the Nickersons’ family described their heartbreak, saying the couple were “tragically taken before their time.”
The family said: “Today brings us closure on the criminal proceedings but in no way does it bring any relief.
“Our family and all those that knew and loved our parents are still grieving their loss.
“They were the most wonderful people tragically taken from us before their time. We miss them beyond belief.
“We would like to thank all our friends, family and the police officers working for the liaison team for their amazing support throughout what has been a horrendous time. Thank you.”
Mr and Mrs Nickerson were crossing the 30mph dual carriageway when MOT tester Hussain slammed into them at up to 40mph on the rainy evening of November 23, 2019.
He did not see them and made no attempt to brake or swerve and didn’t sound his horn.
Drinkers rushed to perform CPR on Mrs Nickerson, who died at the scene.
Mr Nickerson was conscious and told by standers: “We were waiting to cross the road and pressed the button and we waited for the light to turn green then we started to cross and the car sped up.”
He died days later in hospital.
Hussain eventually handed himself in.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by careless driving, causing death whilst uninsured, failing to stop following a collision and possession of cannabis.
In court, he was branded a “monster” for fleeing the scene.
In addition to being jailed, Hussain was disqualified from driving for three years, starting after his custodial sentence, and must complete an extended driving test.
Sergeant Matt Sykes, of Northumbria Police’s Motor Patrols department, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to praise the courage and bravery of the Nickerson family throughout these horrific circumstances and these incredibly difficult court proceedings.
“This has been a truly devastating case to bring before the courts and I hope today helps bring the family the first step towards the closure they deserve.
“Ann and Lawrence’s deaths were completely preventable and this incident shows just how the senseless and irresponsible actions of one person can bring total devastation to other people’s lives.
“Hussain hit two innocent pedestrians because he was driving carelessly and too fast, and also fled the scene, leaving them dying in the road.
“One day his custodial sentence will come to an end, but hopefully the needless taking of the lives of two innocent people is something which will stay with him forever.
“I want to stress to all drivers across our region just how dangerous our roads can be when you drive irresponsibly and fail to pay attention – please treat our pedestrians and road users with respect,
and help us prevent anyone else having to go through this horrific ordeal.
“No one should lose their life on our region’s roads.”