A judge has revealed he lost his own brother in a road accident as he expressed sympathy for the anguish being suffered by the families of two teenage athletes who were killed while out training in Hampshire.
District Judge Phillip Gillibrand paid his condolences to the relatives of 17-year-old Lucy Pygott and Stacey Burrows, 16, as soldier Michael Casey appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court charged with causing their deaths by dangerous driving.
The promising runners were taking part in a training session when they were hit by a black Ford Focus on Queen’s Avenue, Aldershot, last November 8.
Speaking to the families, District Judge Gillibrand said: ‘These are dreadful cases. I would like to pass on my sympathy to you. I do not know the incident but I myself lost my brother in a road traffic accident.
‘I know the trauma and the anguish you must be going through, I send you my sympathy.’
As he spoke, a member of the public knocked on the window of the public gallery, and the judge asked them to leave the court and asked for people to ‘respect the rule of law and due process’ in a case where ‘emotions are flying high’.
Casey, of St Pauls Road, Tottenham, spoke only to confirm his name, address and date of birth during the short hearing.
The 24-year-old, wearing a blue suit, did not enter pleas to the two charges but the court was told he was likely to enter a plea when the case is next heard at Winchester Crown Court on April 13. He was released on unconditional bail until then.
The district judge told Casey: ‘This is a matter that must be dealt with in the crown court so I am sending these cases and you to Winchester Crown Court. You must attend on April 13.’
The girls were members of Aldershot, Farnham and District Athletic Club.
Relatives of Stacey said following her death that her motto in life was ‘work hard’. And the family of Lucy said she had been an ‘absolute joy to us’ and they felt lucky to have had her as part of their family for 17 years.