A MAN killed by a teenage driver who was texting seconds before the crash had been planning to donate a kidney to his seriously ill brother, it was revealed today.

Lee Cain's death meant his 70-year-old father had to step in and undergo the operation, Durham Crown Court heard.

In a moving victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Cain's grieving mother Gail said: "Lee was young and fit and happy to help his brother but because of this collision my husband has had to go through this surgery instead."

Katie Foster pleaded guilty last month to causing death by careless driving and was yesterday sentenced to seven months in a young offenders' institution.

The then 18-year-old was at the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo which hit Mr Cain's Peugeot 206 on the A688 bypass, near West Auckland, on the night of Monday, March 21, 2016.

The head-on crash happened less than half a minute after she had sent a text message, and just nine seconds after she had received a reply.

Judge Christopher Prince said: “It’s important a court sends out a clear message to drivers that you must not drive carelessly, for if you do you might cause someone to lose their life."

Foster, of Carisbrooke Crescent, Etherley Dene, Bishop Auckland, initially denied a charge of causing death by dangerous driving but admitted causing death by careless driving when the charge was offered by the prosecution.

The plea was given on a basis relating to agreed facts regarding the manner of her driving prior to the collision.

These included that the now 20-year-old was driving too close to the vehicle in front of her, she left her braking very late and applied brakes with insufficient force, and that she swerved into the opposite carriageway where the collision took place.

The court was told she also accepted having sent a text message 25 seconds before impact and that she received one nine seconds prior to the crash, while her phone was said to have been beneath her leg.

Although there was no way of determining whether or not Foster, who was driving to a supermarket with three passengers, was using her phone at the time of the smash, her use of it beforehand was viewed as an aggravating factor.

Judge Prince said: "I recognise there's no suggestion that you were holding or using that telephone at the time of the collision but it's evident that you were making a choice not to concentrate as you should have been doing.

"You allowed yourself to be distracted."

In the victim impact statement, read by a family friend, Mrs Cain spoke of "the worst night of my life".

She said: “Words cannot describe the pain I felt that his life had ended at the age of only 36.

“Later that night my nightmare continued when I had to go and identify my son, something a parent should never have to do.”

The court heard the death of Mr Cain, of West Cornforth, had left a void in the lives of his mother, father, brother, nephew, wider family and friends.

She described him as her “best friend” and a “caring and loving person”, an act which she said was reflected four years ago when he offered to donate a kidney to his brother Bradley.

However, due to his death, Mr Cain’s father Brian had at the age of 70 been left with no choice but to undergo the operation himself, and has also had to go back to work despite retiring from the tyre fitting business the father and son had run together.

In mitigation, James Lake, for Foster, told the court she was of previous good character and had been with the same employer since leaving school at 16.

A letter written by Foster, and read to the court by Mr Lake, said she understood the "unthinkable and unimaginable devastation" that her actions had caused.

She said: "My life changed forever on that night. I remember screaming 'how am I going to live with myself?'"

Foster, who wept in the dock throughout the hearing, was sentenced to seven months in a young offenders' institution and was disqualified from driving for 15 months and 14 days, after which she must sit an extended driving test.

Speaking outside court, Acting Sargeant Mark Sheppard said: "The result of this journey highlights how dangerous any distraction to your driving can be.

"I hope today's sentence highlights the grave consequences of being distracted when driving and will go some way to preventing further incidents of this nature in the future as well as saving many lives."