AN accountant who ploughed into two young women, while distracted by a text message, is appealing against his six-year death by dangerous driving prison sentence.

Court officials have confirmed Mohammed Salman Patel, 26, has requested leave to challenge his punishment for his role in the deaths of Shelby Maher, 17, and 23-year-old Rachel Murphy.

Patel was behind the wheel of a BMW 3 Series, and engaged in a text conversation with his girlfriend when he ran over the pair at Brockholes Brow on the night of April 20, 2016.

Prosecutors said Patel did not brake or swerve to avoid the two young women, who were part of a larger group of friends, before the impact.

Miss Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene and Miss Maher died later in hospital from her injuries.

Patel, of Carham Road, Blackburn, had pleaded not guilty to causing the deaths of the pair but was convicted by a jury in just 41 minutes of both offences. He was also banned from driving for nine years.

A Court of Appeal spokesman confirmed that Patel’s lawyers had lodged an application to appeal his August 2018 sentence.

“An application has been received. No date has been set for the hearing yet and what will happen first is that a summary of the case will be drawn up for consideration,” added the spokesman.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands from the court office that a previous appeal request had been denied for Patel by a single judge.

More than 1,100 people have so far signed an online petition, believed to have been drawn up by supporters of the girls’ families, urging law lords to reject Patel’s sentencing appeal.

Brian Turner, who is behind the Justice for Shelby Maher and Rachel Murphy petition, said: “This has come at a time when both families are still trying to come to terms with their loss. Please sign our petition and support us for this grave injustice.”

Police seized Patel’s phone, in the aftermath of the crash, the court heard, and found he had been texting his partner, asking her whereabouts.

Within 42 seconds of texting her, he had hit the two girls in the road. His next recorded call was when he rang the emergency services.

Patel, who had been on a shopping trip with his mother and sister in the car, insisted his last text had been when he was stationary at a roundabout, approaching Brockholes Brow.

He denied having his mobile in his hand when his car struck the victims, or being distracted.