Widow's heartache as danger driver is jailed for six years for killing her husband

Victim Tony Stokoe and his wife Marie.
Victim Tony Stokoe and his wife Marie.

A widow has spoken of her devastation at losing her husband who was killed by a danger driver.

Marie Stokoe said she and her family would be 'victims forever' of Ryan Gilling whose BMW smashed into her husband Tony's Seat Ibiza as he drove through Shotton Colliery.

The scene of the crash in Salter's Lane, Shotton Colliery.

The scene of the crash in Salter's Lane, Shotton Colliery.

The smash happened just two weeks after Gilling finished serving a driving ban for a previous offence.

In a statement read to Teesside Crown Court, Mrs Stokoe said: "I have lost my best friend, my soul mate, the only man I wanted to spend my life with.

"I spend my time counting down the days until we can be together again.

"Tony's death has been incomprehensible for the whole family.

Ryan Gilling had just finished a 12-month roads ban when he crashed into Tony Stokoe.

Ryan Gilling had just finished a 12-month roads ban when he crashed into Tony Stokoe.

"A trivial trip to buy work boots has become quite simply the most devastating trip our family has been on.

"We will be victims forever."

Mrs Stokoe added there had also been a financial impact to her husband's death.

"He was proud to be the breadwinner for our family," she said. "I now have to worry about being able to keep the family home together.

"I have been unable to work, and have been to the doctor and a bereavement counsellor.

"I've also been taking anti-depressants for the first time in my life.

"Tony was taken from me just as we were looking forward to spending more time together."

Father-of-three Mr Stokoe, 50, died at the scene of the crash in Salter's Lane.

Prosecutor David Crook told the court: "The BMW driven by Gilling was doing up to 70mph in the 40mph zone when it lost control in wet weather.

"It was on the wrong side of the road when it collided head-on with Mr Stokoe's Ibiza.

"His car was propelled backwards by the impact into a brick bus shelter, which collapsed and fell on his car.

"The BMW was also propelled backwards into a following car, causing that car to be written off."

The court heard Gilling left the scene on foot and was arrested after he later admitted himself to hospital where staff called the police.

Gilling told officers he had been driving slowly when 'the back end just slid'.

Gilling, 26, of Manor House Estate, Shotton Colliery, admitted causing death by dangerous driving on November 5, last year.

He completed a previous driving ban two weeks before the crash, and among his other convictions is one for using a handheld mobile phone while driving.

Glen Gatland, defending, said: "Mr Gilling is truly remorseful for what has happened.

"He told police at the time it should have been him.

"He wishes he could change that day, but he cannot and can do no more than apologise profusely through me."

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton jailed Gilling for six years and nine months.

The judge said: "No sentence I can pass can begin to compensate Mr Stokoe's family for their catastrophic loss which we have heard about in such heart rending terms."

Gilling was banned from driving for three years from the date of his release from prison.

He must take an extended driving test if he wants to drive again after the ban has expired.

Speaking after the case, Sergeant Jonathan Morgan of Durham Police said: "No sentence could ever compensate for the devastation which Gilling caused Tony's family, but I hope the length of time he will serve behind bars will serve as a clear message to others about how they drive.

"Our enquiries into this incident continue and two people remain on bail on suspicion of assisting an offender.

"Any new information will be gratefully received."

Anyone with information ring police on 101.