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Van driver who told police 'I hope I killed someone' after killing woman, 19, in collision is jailed

Luke Hawkes, 28, drove through a red traffic light at high speed, colliding with two vehicles and killing Bethany Branson, 19, instantly.

Luke Hawkes drove through a red traffic light at high speed, colliding with two vehicles and killing Bethany Branson. (Avon and Somerset Police)
Luke Hawkes drove through a red traffic light at high speed, colliding with two vehicles and killing Bethany Branson. (Avon and Somerset Police)

A van driver who told police “I hope I killed someone" when he was arrested for causing the death of a teenager in a crash has been jailed for ten years.

Luke Hawkes, 28, drove through a red traffic light at high speed, colliding with two vehicles and killing Bethany Branson, 19, on 18 November last year.

Hawkes was driving a white Ford Transit van along the A38 in Bridgwater, Somerset, when the tragedy struck - but he showed no remorse.

He refused to provide a specimen of breath for analysis after being held at taser point following the horror smash.

Hawkes, of Bridgwater, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen at a previous hearing.

He was jailed for ten years and handed a 12 years and seven-month driving disqualification at Taunton Crown Court on Friday.

The court heard how Hawkes had shown no remorse for his actions, refusing to complete a breathalyser or swab test for drugs and alcohol at the roadside.

On arrest, Hawkes was recorded on body-worn video saying: “I hope I killed someone. Oh well, you know what, I will get three, four, five years. Hopefully I killed them.”

Hawkes had previously been involved in a minor road traffic collision further up the A38 Taunton Road, near the Showground Roundabout, prior to the collision which killed Bethany.

He then left the scene towards Bridgwater, where he was then involved in the fatal collision.

A further three people, including Hawkes, sustained minor injuries.

Judge Paul Cook said: “You can tell this was a prolonged, consistent and deliberate course of driving. it was obvious that you where drunk as I have seen the state of your intoxication on a number of videos.

“It was very clear that Bethany was a bubbly and infectious person, destined for a life of giving which has shattered the hearts of the family.

“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 [you] killed someone’.”

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, moving the maximum term from 14 years to life imprisonment for dangerous driving.