A YOUNG man who only drove because he was late for work has started a prison sentence after mowing down and killing a teenager living her dream year in Taunton.

Silvia Diaz Sanz, 15, died the morning after she and her friend were knocked into the air by the car on a pedestrian crossing on December 12 last year.

Zoltan Ferencz was sent down at Taunton Crown Court after admitting causing the death by dangerous driving of Spaniard Silvia and causing serious injury to Italian Constanza Maria Asini, 16.

The girls had just finished a hockey practice sessions and were crossing Greenway Road to return to their boarding house at Taunton International School at 9.15pm on the day of the incident.

Silvia, whose younger sister also attends the school, suffered unsurvivable head injuries while Constanza has since undergone two operations following fractures to an arm and a leg.

Ferencz, 23, was jailed for 27 months for causing death by dangerous driving, 12 months for causing serious injury by dangerous driving and 15 months for driving his unlicensed and uninsured VW Passat.

He was also ordered to pay a £170 statutory surcharge and will be banned from driving for three years on his release from prison.

Mary McCarthy, prosecuting, said Ferencz was heading towards his home in Cheddon Road at the end of his shift and had only driven to work earlier in the day because he was late.

She added: "CCTV from the school shows the moment of impact.

"The defendant's vehicle was driven into the junction without any alteration in his speed.

"He accepts he drove onto the crossing without braking and the impact threw the two girls into the air.

"He said he was driving his vehicle despite the fact that his windscreen was misted up.

"As he approached the junction, he'd leaned down to pick up a rag to wipe the screen."

Rebecca Bradbury, defending, said Ferencz accepted he was not paying attention for 4.99 seconds as he looked for the rag before the accident, that had such "hideous consequences".

She added: "He's truly sorry for that lapse of concentration, that moment of not thinking clearly.

"He finds it impossible to describe the regret, the great sorrow and pain that he's inflicted.

"He manages to hold himself together, but he's teetering on the edge.

"Only through the support of his friends and family has he been in a position to carry on.

"He will not lead a happy life from hereon. This will hang over him for the rest of his life."

An impact statement from Silvia's mother, Yolanda Sanz read to the court outlined how the family have been traumatised by her death and have been unable to clear her room, where her ashes remain on her desk.

"A car can turn into a deadly weapon and kill a person the same way that driver did," added Mrs Sanz.

"We're very distressed because we had so many hope for our daughter - to learn, have fun, to make friends, a year in England in such a good school. It was like a dream come true. She was really happy to be there.

"She was hard working, well behaved. She was a prefect. She always had a smile on her face and showed compassion for others.

"She had a big heart and big ambition. She lived sports and being healthy.

"She'll be greatly missed, but not forgotten. We're a close family and an important part of our family is missing.

"We become upset very often. We do thing because we have to. We're continuing the best we can, although we're a bit lost with no direction.

"Our younger daughter asks about what her sister did wrong to have such a bad fate. She was her sister and playmate.

"The moment of the accident is constantly in our minds. Sometimes we quarrel because of that.

"It's so cruel, so unjust, such a waste of a promising young life suddenly cut short and all our dreams have vanished."

Sentencing, Judge David Ticehurst said: "None of us can know as we go about our daily business what the ay will bring.

"In the midst of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, there's always the possibility that tragedy or an accident may befall any one of us.

"For the family of Silvia, December 12 was just such a day. As a result of your inattention, Silvia was killed and you accept you were entirely responsible for causing her death.

"Can I say to you (Ferencz) and the parents of Silvia and Constanza that I am sending Mr Ferencz to prison with a heavy heart.

"It won't bring back Silvia and it won't undo the harm to Constanza. It's all I can do to satisfy my public duty."