Learner driver killed friend in 78mph crash after taking drugs during night of 'partying'

Stephen Thompson, who died on July 1
Stephen Thompson, who died on July 1

A learner driver who killed his pal in a 78mph crash after a night of "partying" has been put behind bars.

Connor Bainbridge had taken cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis, and vodka, had been awake all night when he lost control of a Skoda Fabia motor he was not insured for, which became airborne and crashed into wall 20ft along the road.

Back seat passenger Stephen Thompson, 17, who was a college student, suffered "catastropic" injuries in the 7am collision on the New House Road, Esh Winning, County Durham, on July 1 last year and pronounced dead at the scene.

A teenage girl, who was front seat passenger, needed surgery at hospital and was in a coma but has since recovered.

At Newcastle Crown Court Bainbridge, 21, of South View, Ushaw Moor, County Durham, who held just a provisional licence, admitted causing death by dangerous driving and has been jailed for five years and four months with a five year road ban, which starts after his release.

Mr Justice Goss said the smash happened after "a night without sleep and partying" and has caused devastation to many people.

The judge told Bainbridge: "The consequences of what you did that morning can never be undone.

"A life was needlessly lost and the impact of that loss on his family is very understandably, immense and will remain with them for the rest of their lives."

In a heartbreaking statement, which was read to court by prosecutor Mark Guiliani, Stephen's devastated mother Michelle Heeney told of her family's daily struggle without her boy.

She said; "How do I put into words the loss of a child? How do you explain a broken heart?

"It is the worst pain in the world. The ache in my heart is unbearable. It is like living in a nightmare which you can't get out of.

"Stephen was the youngest of three children. From the minute he was born he was mummy's boy. We were so close. As the years passed, nothing changed.

"We used to joke with each other, I used to tell him he couldn't leave home until he was 30.

"It was only him and I at home. He was my rock, my entire world.

"I am struggling to see a future without him. There was so much laughter at home, now there is silence.

"I can't seem to focus on anything, I can't sleep. The moment I shut my eyes all I see is Stephen, battered and bruised, it is a vision I cant get out of my head."

Ms Heeney said in her statement she has had to give up a job she loved, looking after a disabled boy, and no longer feels safe to drive on the road.

She added; "I spend most of my days and nights at the cemetery. It is the only place I want to be."

The grieving mum said her other two children have been left shattered by the loss of their sibling and that together they feel "numb".

She added: "Christmas day was hard. He was always the first to get the tree out, always trying to peek at his presents. This year, there were no gifts. The house was empty.

"On February 1 it was his 18th birthday. We had to celebrate this at his grave."

The grieving mum said her boy, who was a Newcastle United fan and studying to be a plumber, was a "caring, gentle boy" and added: "He was an old school gentleman, he would open doors, give up his seat, take his coat off if a girl was cold, he was always smiling."

Martin Scarborough, defending Bainbridge, said: "If he could turn the clock back he would, of course, he can't."

Mr Scarborough said Bainbridge has never been in trouble before , was "polite and popular", had a job and knows he should never had got behind the wheel of the car.