A learner driver who ran over and killed a talented teenager before setting his car alight has been jailed for six and a half years.
Gifted dancer Alessia Boschiazzo, 14, from Carshalton, Surrey, had completed a successful audition at the famed Brit school in south London the day before she was run over and killed.
Her parents received her letter of acceptance to the school, which lists Adele, Amy Winehouse, Katie Melua and Rizzle Kicks among its star alumni, just days after her life-support machine was switched off.
Hit-and-run driver Steven Saunders, 22, a scaffolder from Mottingham, south London, admitted the offence at Croydon crown court last year.
Alessia was struck by Saunders while he was driving in Croydon, in February 2011. He had been rushing to keep a dinner date with his partner and did not stop to help the girl.
Saunders had only a provisional licence. The court heard that he was doing 50mph in a 30mph area and "darting and weaving in and out of traffic".
In an attempt to hide the evidence, Saunders set his Renault Clio alight just half a mile away from where he hit the girl. The fire caused £10,000 worth of damage to two other cars.
Alessia's mother, Cecilia Flores, said her daughter was "a lovely, happy teenager full of goals and targets in her life".
Prosecuting, James Brown told the court: "Miss Boschiazzo was left lying in the road. She sustained very serious injuries and was taken to St George's Hospital for treatment.
"She died a week later."
Recorder Warwick McKinnon told Saunders: "This is a dreadful and tragic case. You mowed down that poor girl at the beginning of her life. She was only 14 and had everything to live for.
"There you were, a provisional driver, who had bought this car a few days before this dreadful accident.
"You had driven it at least twice before while unlicensed and you drove at a grossly excessive speed inappropriate to the circumstances.
"You may have seen Alessia moments before the collision, but before that you were accelerating towards her and it sounds almost pathetic to say you were doing that because you were running late.
"What aggravates this is that, having struck Alessia, you, almost without thinking, sped off straight away and went to the nearest out-of-the-way cul-de-sac, where you set fire to your vehicle with the intention of getting away with the dreadful crime you had committed."
Saunders admitted perverting the course of justice by setting fire to his car. He had a previous conviction of failing to stop for police while driving a stolen car.