THE DEATH of a 20-year-old female soldier - killed along with a colleague in a car crash at the weekend -  marks the second time her family have been left to cope with a devastating tragedy.

As colleagues and friends paid tribute to private Codie Richardson, from Stockton, last night, it emerged that her father had been murdered in a confrontation with two men in 2002.

Two brothers were sentenced to lengthy jail terms after 39-year-old Mark Richardson was stabbed through the heart in an unprovoked attack outside the family home.

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And last night the family were coming to terms with another tragedy after Private Richardson died alongside fellow soldier, Mark McKeen, 23, from Northern Ireland.

The accident happened in Leyburn Road, Catterick Garrison, just after 8pm on Saturday when their Seat Ibiza left the road and collided with a tree.

Her family were too upset to speak last night, but a spokesman told The Northern Echo that they had concerns the area was an accident blackspot.

Pte Richardson, who served with the Royal Dragoon Guards, based at Catterick, in North Yorkshire, was taken by ambulance to Darlington Memorial Hospital, where she later died. Trooper McKeen was killed at the scene.

Pte Richardson, who leaves five sisters and her mother, Carol, attended Norton School and then Stockton Riverside College before joining The Royal Dragoon Guards.

Speaking on behalf of the cavalry regiment, Major Hugh Pearce-Gould, Officer Commanding B (The Black Horse) Squadron, said: “Private Richardson had only been with the regiment for five months, but had made a very positive impression on her squadron.

“Outgoing, keen and personable, she was always willing to take on new challenges. She embraced being in a cavalry regiment and seized the opportunity to take up horse riding.

“She was also a very caring, considerate person and always put the needs of others first. Our deepest sympathies are with her family and friends at this difficult time.

“She will be greatly missed.”

Andrew Rasmussen said he knew her at school. He said: “She was a really nice, happy, smiley person. It didn’t matter what life threw at her, nothing would get her down.”

Nearly 4,500 people joined a Facebook tribute page to Pte Richardson and there were many online comments praising her.

Sam Webster said: “Codie is one of my ex-cadets. She was a great cadet and staff member. When I saw her at Christmas she was so happy she was in the Army and we were so proud of her. She was always smiling and once you met her, you would never forget her. We will never forget you.”

Another friend, Cori Burton, wrote: “I still can’t get my head around. I’m still shocked. We love you so much Codie, you were like family. Your dad will look after you up there, babe, sleep tight.”

Lulu McStravick's husband was undergoing treatment at Darlington Memorial when the stricken soldier was brought in.

She wrote: “Every attempt was made to save her. Very sad.”

Tributes to Trooper McKeen were also led by Major Hugh Pearce-Gould. He said: “Trooper Mark McKeen was a well-rounded individual and a first class soldier; his loss will be keenly felt by all who knew him.

“He was a popular and engaging member of the Regiment. He served with great courage and dedication on two difficult and dangerous tours of Afghanistan.

“His untimely loss is a terrible tragedy but his memory will always be cherished by The Royal Dragoon Guards and those of us fortunate enough to have known him.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Pte Richardson’s father was just 39 in 2002 when he was stabbed through the heart after investigating an intruder at the then-family home on Raleigh Road in Stockton.

His assailants, brothers David and John Worton, were jailed at Tesside Crown Court.

David Worton, 42, was  found guilty of murder. His 43-year-old brother was jailed for  eight years after being found guilty of manslaughter on a majority verdict.

Codie and the rest of her family paid tribute ten years later in a published message in April, 2012, which said: “Taken away from us ten years ago today. Death leaves heartache no-one can heal, memories are treasures no-one can steal. Love you always, Carol, your forever loving daughters Lindsey, Caroline, Colleen, Codie, Chelsey and Kasey.”

The dates for the inquests have not yet been arranged.