A hit-and-run driver who knocked down and killed an elderly couple has been jailed for just two years.
Childhood sweethearts Ann Nickerson, 75, and husband Lawrence, 79, left home for a romantic dinner at an Italian restaurant in Newcastle on November 23, 2019.
The grandparents – who were due to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary just months later – had parked and were crossing the road when Asif Hussain, 23, knocked them over in his Vauxhall Corsa VXR at 40mph before driving off.
Mrs Nickerson died at the scene while Mr Nickerson was rushed to hospital – but tragically passed away several days later.
Police launched a large-scale search for Hussain before he handed himself in and was arrested.
A hit-and-run driver who killed Ann Nickerson, 75, and husband Lawrence, 79, (pictured) has been jailed for two years
Hussain, 23, of Newcastle, plead guilty to two counts of causing death by careless driving, causing death whilst uninsured, failing to stop following a collision and possession of cannabis.
He was sentenced to two years in prison at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday.
The grandparents – who were due to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary in 2020 – had parked and were crossing the road when Asif Hussain, 23, (pictured) knocked them over before driving off
A statement issued by the Nickerson family read: ‘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.’
On the night of the incident, the couple were heading out for a quiet meal together after discovering their son’s cancer had returned and was terminal.
They were crossing the dual carriageway close to the Punch Bowl Hotel when Hussain careened into them at 40mph in a 30mph zone.
He did not try to swerve or brake and he failed to sound his horn.
Horrified drivers rushed out to give Mrs Nickerson CPR but she tragically died at the scene.
Mr Nickerson was still conscious at this point, Chronicle Live reports, and told witnesses: ‘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.’
On the night of the incident, the couple were heading out for a quiet meal together after discovering their son’s cancer had returned and was terminal. They were crossing the dual carriageway close to the Punch Bowl Hotel when Hussain careened into them (his car, pictured) at 40mph in a 30mph zone
Sergeant Matt Sykes from Northumbria Police’s Motor Patrols department, paid tribute to the Nickerson family and described Ann and Lawrence’s deaths as ‘completely preventable’.
He 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.
Mrs Nickerson died at the scene (pictured) while Mr Nickerson was rushed to hospital – but tragically passed away several days later
‘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.
Police launched a large-scale search for Hussain before he handed himself in and was arrested. Pictured: The scene on the night of the crash
‘No one should lose their life on our region’s roads.’
At the time of their death, the family said in an emotional statement: ‘Our entire family has been left inconsolable by the loss of Ann and Lawrence.
‘They were our parents, our grandparents and our best friends.
‘For our loved ones to be taken from us in such a horrific and tragic way, we will be forever changed and mourning this loss.’
The family also said the devoted pair raised three children together while working hard to build up their own family business, Clarks Home Bakery.
The business continued to provide for the entire family for 42 years.