A man who killed two girls in a horrific crash has been jailed for six years.
Mohmed Salman Patel, 27, from Blackburn, has been found guilty of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving over the deaths of Rachel Murphy, 23, and Shelby Maher, 17.
Judge Robert Altham has now sentenced him to six years in jail, and banned him from driving for nine years.
READ MORE>>> 'My soul is screaming that my granddaughter is dead'
The two girls died after they were hit by Patel's car on Brockholes Brow in Preston.
The girl, both from Preston, died having sustained catastrophic injuries in the collision on Brockholes Brow in April 2016.
Megan Blakey, who was 15 at the time, was also injured after being struck by the BMW and spent a week in hospital.
Preston Crown Court this morning heard from the girls' families about the terrible impact the crash had had on them all.
Rachel Murphy's mum Helen Murphy said: "She shouldn't have died. She was too young to die.
"All my family have suffered. I have been diagnosed with depression. I can't sleep, it just won't shut off."
Shelby's mother Melanie added: "On hearing the news it felt like my heart had stopped with panic and hurt."
She went to Royal Preston Hospital where doctors and nurses told her Shelby had a broken leg, pelvis and a head injury.
She said: "She suffered a heart attack and despite staff trying to resuscitate her she passed away.
"I went into shock and couldn't move. Its destroying me knowing that I will never see her grow up.
Speaking after the case, Tom Snape from the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Evidence showed that there was just a matter of seconds between Mohmed Patel sending a text message while driving, and him colliding with the victims as they crossed the road.
“While Patel pleaded guilty to careless driving, the CPS was not prepared to accept his plea to the lesser charge.
“His actions in texting while behind the wheel were shown to be dangerous, and that moment of deliberate distraction by his mobile phone had tragic consequences for the family and friends of Rachel and Shelby. Our thoughts are with them.”
Supt Julian Platt, of Lancashire Police’s Tactical Operations, said: “This is a tragic case where two young women lost their lives, with another girl injured. My thoughts and those of my colleagues remain with the families, friends of the victims and all of those affected by this appalling incident.
“Mohmed Patel must live with the results of his actions, knowing that he has taken the lives of these two young women. I hope that this terrible case will at least act as a deterrent for anyone who still thinks it is acceptable to use a mobile phone while they are driving.
“The message is clear and simple – do not use your mobile phone while behind the wheel. Just taking your eyes off the road for a second or two to check a text, an email or a social media post can have devastating consequences both for you and for others.”
Commenting on the sentencing, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “Mr Patel’s selfish actions resulted in the tragic and needless deaths of Rachel Murphy and Shelby Maher and yet he will only face a maximum of six years in jail - a pitifully lenient sentence for such an awful crime.
"Ten months ago, the Government announced it would introduce tougher sentences for drivers who kill and yet the law remains unchanged. The Government needs to stop sitting on its hands and introduce this legislation - road crash victims deserve justice.”
“Mobile phone use behind the wheel is all too common on our roads and its consequences, as in this case, can be truly catastrophic.
"The deaths of Rachel and Shelby must act as a wake-up call to the Government and technology companies that action needs to be taken to stop illegal phone use behind the wheel. Research has shown that smartphone owners can’t go 12 minutes without checking their phone and the implications for this for road safety must be acknowledged and acted upon. "