The girlfriend of a young hit-and-run victim who’d been shopping for wedding rings before a drugged up driver took it all away has slammed the killer’s sentence.
A perfect future for the couple was ripped away in an instant when Lewis Knapp, 20, was struck by Connor Emms in a hit-and-run on April 15 last year.
Caitlyn Hardy has described how she heard what “sounded like an explosion” before she tried to give her boyfriend CPR.
She has slammed the length of Emm’s sentence who was jailed for four-and-a-half years, Chronicle Live reports.
Marriage was on the cards for Caitlyn and Lewis, of Boldon Colliery, South Tyneside, until the speeding drink driver hit him.
The couple became almost inseparable after meeting at a house party back in April 2015.
So strong was their love, Lewis had even been out shopping to look at wedding rings ahead of a proposal.
The couple had enjoyed a night out with friends on Good Friday and Caitlyn was making her way to a taxi rank on Anderson Street in South Shields in the early hours of the morning when she heard an “explosion”.
Caitlyn, 19, from Jarrow, said: “I just heard the car hit him, I didn’t even see it as it was going so fast. It sounded like an explosion.
“Lewi was knocked on to the other side of the pavement, that’s how hard it hit him.
“I didn’t know what to do, I can’t even remember if I was crying. I just remember screaming and I tried to give him CPR but I didn’t know what I was doing.
“He had his eyes open, but I could feel he was not there, I could just tell.”
Killer Emms, who a court heard did not have a driving licence and was driving more than double the 30mph speed limit after consuming a cocktail of cocaine and vodka, fled the scene in his Vauxhall Vectra.
Lewis suffered multiple injuries but was pronounced dead at the roadside.
“I’m glad I was there with him. People probably feel bad that I was, but I’m so glad I was,” said Caitlyn.
“I just can’t imagine not being there with Lewi when it happened.”
Speaking months since her loss, Caitlyn has paid tribute to Lewis and spoken of her heartbreak at his sudden death.
She said: “We both knew pretty quickly we wanted to be together. Lewi was my best friend, we were together every day and did everything together.
“We talked about getting married all the time. He was full of life and he never had a bad word to say about anyone – he was just a good person.
“I don’t even know how I feel. It’s something you have to get used to – you get used to being in pain.
“I’m just taking each day as it comes. It’s the day to day stuff I miss about him the most.”
Emms, 21, of South Shields, was jailed for four-and-a-half years at Newcastle Crown Court on Monday and disqualified from driving for three years with an extended period of two years and three months.
At an earlier hearing, he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving, drug driving, failing to stop after an accident, having no insurance and driving without a licence.
But Caitlyn has slammed the length of the Emms’ sentence – and believes justice has not been served.
She said: “It was awful having to be in the same courtroom as him [Emms], but I just wanted to be there for everything,
“I think it was just total shock. I didn’t go in with any expectations of what he might get, but I think the sentence is ridiculous and it’s not setting an example.
“Nobody is going to take drink driving seriously if you can kill someone and get off with that sentence.
“It gets worse the more I think about it because of what he has done. He has killed Lewi – he is never coming back.”
Less than a year on from losing the love of her life, Caitlyn admits she still does not know what the future holds for her.
She wears a ring containing her beloved boyfriend’s ashes, and says the tragedy has brought her closer to Lewis’ mum Michelle Norton and dad Michael Knapp.
Family and friends gathered at the scene of the incident on Saturday to lay fresh flowers, and Caitlyn is determined to raise awareness of the dangers of drink driving in her boyfriend’s memory.
“We want people to stop getting in their cars when they’ve had a drink. It is such an easy thing to avoid.
“He [Emms] obviously didn’t go out with the intention of killing someone but that’s what you are doing when you get in the car having had a drink.”