A DUSTBIN lorry driver who lost control while at the wheel and killed holidaying Yeovil couple, Jacqueline Timmins and Andrew Hardie, in New York has been sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison.

Driver Auvryn Scarlett was yesterday sentenced after being convicted of murdering the happy Yeovil couple, who were taking a romantic Valentine’s break in the Big Apple in February of last year, at an earlier hearing.

Scarlett, 54, had failed to tell his company bosses that he suffered from epilepsy and that he had stopped taking his medication.

The court had been told that on the fateful day itself back on February 12, 2008, the couple were walking along the pavement in Manhattan close to their hotel.

The driving conditions were difficult, but Scarlett suffered a seizure while driving the dustcart, mounted the pavement and ploughed into Ms Timmins, 47, and 48-year-old Mr Hardie. They were killed instantly.

Another pedestrian was badly injured, but deputy district attorney Christopher Ryan told the court: "The idea that only two people were killed when that truck rolled up on the sidewalk is bordering on miraculous.”

But he added: "But that is certainly of no consolation to the Timmins or the Hardie family.

“To put yourself behind the wheel knowing what could happen is depraved. It is a conscious disregard for the safety of everybody else on the street."

Judge Richard Carruthers, in his sentencing yesterday at the Manhattan Supreme Court, said that Scarlett had become a “timebomb ready to explode” because of his failure to take the medication needed for his epilepsy.

“This was a profoundly irresponsible act,” he said. “In the blink of an eye, two lovers walking hand in hand were struck down and taken away from the bossom of their families.”

Ms Timmins’ son Paul told the BBC: “Nobody should ever have to go through something as traumatic as this.

"I will always remember Mum as a very happy person and devoted mother who was always there for all of us."

The defence lawyer for Scarlett, who had been convicted of two counts of murder in the second degree at New York’s Supreme Court in September, had said that his client was not “a monster” and that it had been a tragic accident.

The Yeovil couple’s children have since spoken of their relief at the sentence passed on Scarlett, but said that they would never forgive the man for taking away their mum and dad.