Danger driver who caused death of non-league footballer Richie Jordan is jailed

A dangerous driver responsible for killing a non-league footballer after reaching speeds of 120mph in his Mercedes has been jailed.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 2:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st September 2021, 9:52 am

Mark Thompson, 42, got behind the wheel in the early hours of the morning after going out drinking with work colleagues Richard Jordan and Lewis Atkinson, who were his passengers.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that Mr Jordan, who had played for Sunderland RCA and Ryhope CW, was thrown from the car and suffered fatal injuries.

Prosecutor Neil Pallister said: "At about 1.25 in the early hours of the 4th of August 2019, the defendant drove a Mercedes motor vehicle in excess of 121mphin a 70mph zone.

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Mark Thompson

"Lewis Atkinson was 26 years of age and was the front seat passenger and Richard Jordan, who was 33 at the time, was a rear seat passenger."

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The court was told that Thompson drove towards a Vauxhall Corsa with speed on the A19 near Houghton-le-Spring before hitting it from behind.

The force of the impact caused Thompson's car to spin out of control before it struck a barrier which was uprooted from the ground.

Richie Jordan

Mr Pallister added: "Richard Jordan was thrown out of the Mercedes and died as a result of the injuries sustained.

"Lewis Atkinson suffered a bleed on the brain but refused to assist the prosecution other than to give access to his medical records.

"CCTV and the speed conclusion report showed the Mercedes had been travelling 65mph in a 30mph zone ten minutes or so prior to the incident.

"Following the incident, blood samples were taken from the defendant and at the time of travelling the defendant was over the legal drink and drug drive limits."

Thompson blew 118mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood which is one and a half times the limit and also tested positive for a type of cocaine.

In a witness statement, the driver of the Corsa described seeing the defendant's car approaching from behind at a "high speed" as well as straddling the lanes.

Mr Pallister said: "He tried to move his car to the left to allow the approaching car to pass but then felt a heavy bump from behind.

"A post-mortem confirmed Mr Jordan suffered significant injuries which caused his death and were clearly caused having been thrown from the Mercedes which crashed."

Mr Jordan's partner Carol King told the court of how his death had devastated the family.

Mr Jordan was father to daughters Quinn and one-year-old Gray – born after he passed away – and Carol expressed her pain that he would never get to watch his children grow up or get married.

Describing Thompson as "a man I've never met" she told the court he'd shown no remorse to the family and slammed him as "selfish and irresponsible."

The court also heard a statement from Mr Jordan's sister, Olivia, which read: "I'm mourning the loss of my big brother, my confidant, my protector.

"Richard was always there for me and vice-versa. We could tell each other anything without being judged, knowing we would be there for each otherregardless.

"I've held my mum and dad while they cry for their only son, feeling an indescribable pain and helplessness because they hurt so much and there's nothing I can do."

Thompson, of Seaton Crescent, Seaham has history of driving offences and admitted causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Judge Penny Moreland sentenced him to six years and eight months imprisonment and said: "You're responsible for the death of Richard Jordan and the injuries caused to Lewis Atkinson by your dangerous driving.

"No sentence can ever make up for the loss that family has suffered as a result of what you did.

"This was a prolonged, persistent course of bad driving. You were driving in excess of the speed limit when the accident occurred."

Martin Scarborough, mitigating, said Thompson had previously written to the family expressing his apologies, and had spent months in hospital himself as a result of injures suffered.

Mr Scarborough added: "In my submission he has shown remorse for his behaviour on this occasion which caused the death of Mr Jordan and the serious injuries to Mr Atkinson.

"He sets out he wishes it was him and not his friend Mr Jordan."

Thompson was also banned from driving for three years upon his release from prison.

Sergeant Alan Keenleyside, the officer in charge of the case, said: “First and foremost, our thoughts remain with Richard’s family and friends.

"The last two years have been incredibly difficult for them and no outcome today in court could reverse the incidents of that night.

"They have remained hugely supportive throughout the police investigation and I would like to pay tribute to the way they have supported my team, which in turn has allowed me to embed them as part of my investigation.

“Any death on our roads is an absolute tragedy – but this is particularly poignant given that it was so avoidable.

“Mark Thompson’s actions behind the wheel were reckless and dangerous. He endangered the lives of many other road users as he pressed down the accelerator – with Forensic Collision Investigators confirming he had reached speeds of not less than 121mph on a national speed limit road.

“Dashcam footage from the Corsa highlights the appalling state of his driving and his decisions have had the most tragic of consequences.

“Because of him, Richard's life has been tragically taken away and that void can never be replaced in his loved ones’ lives."

Sgt Keenleyside added: "I hope this case acts as a serious reminder to everybody – your decisions while behind the wheel could have irreversible consequences and ruin more than one life in an instant.

"The laws that are in place are not optional and our roads are not racetracks.”