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Hit and run driver who killed talented dancer in Croydon is jailed

Your Local Guardian: Stephen Saunders was jailed for six-and-a-half years Stephen Saunders was jailed for six-and-a-half years

An unlicensed and uninsured driver who knocked down a talented dancer and left her for dead has been jailed for six and a half years.

Stephen Saunders, 22, of Gardeners Close, Mottingham, killed popular teenager Alessia Boschiazzo in a hit and run in February 2011.

The 14-year-old from Wrythe Lane, Carshalton, was knocked down in Morland Road, Addiscombe at about 7pm.

Alessia, who was a student at Ursuline High School in Wimbledon, suffered severe head injuries and a broken pelvis after being mown down as she went to meet friends.

She spent a week in a coma before she died from her injuries, surrounded by her family.

Croydon Crown Court heard Saunders had bought the Renault Clio a few days before the crash and had driven it twice in the days before the accident.

He told police he had been rushing to meet his girlfriend for dinner when the schoolgirl was hit.

Saunders claimed he had intended to call a taxi, but had changed his mind because he was running late.

After colliding with Alessia, an aspiring dancer, he set fire to his car by pushing a rag into the petrol cap and burning it with a lighter, before fleeing the scene.

The scaffolder was due to stand trial this week charged with death by dangerous driving, but changed his plea after independent evidence showed he was speeding.

Saunders cried as he was sentenced to five years for causing death by dangerous driving and 18 months for perverting the course of justice, to be served consecutively.

He was also sentenced to 16 months for causing death while driving unlicensed and uninsured, which will be served concurrently.

The Recorder of Croydon, Warwick McKinnon, sentencing said: "You mowed down the poor girl at the height of her life-she was only 14, she had everything to live for.

"So there you were a provisional driving license holder, who bought that Renault Clio motor car but a few days before that fatal accident.

"You had taken it twice before as an uninsured provisional licence holder and you drove it at a grossly excessive speed.

"Having struck Alessia almost without thinking, you sped off straight away.

"You went to the nearby convenience and quiet of the cul-de-sac where you set fire to the vehicle with the obvious intention of seeking to get away with the dreadful crime you had committed.

"And there she was dying on the road, she was taken to hospital and could not be saved. It is an utterly, dreadful tragic story."

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