A DRIVER who killed a friend and seriously injured his father when he crashed an uninsured works van was yesterday (Tuesday) jailed for two years and eight months.

Duanne McLoughlin was impassive in the dock at Teesside Crown Court as details of the tragedy on the outskirts of Darlington were revealed for the first time.

The 23-year-old was driving a Peugeot which collided with a lorry near the junction of Brownside Lane and Houghton Bank on the A68 at Heighington last May.

Loading article content

The court heard how the accident happened when he simply failed to stop at a 'give way' sign where the country road he was leaving meets the main carriageway.

McLoughlin was unfamiliar with the road and was using it because his usual route from the family pub to a cash-and-carry warehouse was closed that day.

Front seat passenger Peter Hammond, 49, suffered a fractured skull and multiple internal injuries and died instantly, prosecutor Paul Newcombe told the court.

McLoughlin's father, Stephen, sustained serious multiple injuries and was airlifted to hospital from the scene; while his son was treated for whiplash.

Mr McLoughlin, 42, was thrown about in the back of the van as it took off, flipped and overturned before hitting a fence and coming to rest on a grass verge.

He suffered two breaks in his back, four smashed ribs, fractures in his jaw, cheekbone, right elbow, left wrist, left hip, right heel and left foot, while his hair was ripped out and right shin shattered.

Mr Newcombe said he was in hospital for five weeks and has undergone numerous operations where metal work has been inserted to repair the devastating damage.

Peter Furness, mitigating, said: "Mr McLoughlin is in court to support his son. He says he would take those injuries again if it helped save his son today."

The court heard that the van had a faulty brake and McLoughlin - a barman at the pub - had let his insurance lapse because he did not have the money for it.

Mr Furness said: "The root cause of this accident is the fact that he missed the junction and pulled straight out into the path of another vehicle."

One witness later told investigators how they saw a cloud of debris and the van "tumbling", while another said: "It all happened in the blink of an eye."

McLoughlin said Mr Hammond warned him about the junction as they were almost upon it, and added: "I jammed the brakes on, but just kept going straight out."

The Northern Echo:
Peter Hammond

Mr Hammond, a grandfather-of-two, from Bolam, between Darlington and West Auckland, was described in family tributes as "big-hearted" and "a good lad".

He was a business development manager for a vehicle hire company, was a keen fisherman, and loved spending time with his twin grandsons, James and Harry.

McLoughlin, of Selbourne Terrace, Darlington, admitted causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving and causing death when uninsured.

Judge Peter Armstrong also banned him from the roads for three years after telling him: "Your father was perhaps fortunate to survive this as you were."

Mr Furness told the court: "The death has caused him enormous emotional turmoil. The death of a family friend - his father's best friend - makes it even worse.

The Northern Echo:
Stephen McLoughlin

"There is genuine remorse and I say Mr McLoughlin is experiencing that. It will continue long after his sentence has been served."