A DANGEROUS driver has been jailed for more than five years after pleading guilty to causing the death of a young mother as she crossed the road with her son.

Stuart Pearson Levy, 36, of Rocket Street, Darlington, caused the death of Shantelle Kirkup and also seriously injured the Northallerton mum's five-year-old son as they crossed a road in Darlington.

Teesside Crown Court was told that Levy had earlier taken his prescribed methadone medication and was not wearing his glasses as he ploughed into the pair on the pedestrian crossing.

Witnesses described how he didn't slow down at all as he neared the crossing.

Levy was jailed for 64 months for killing Mrs Kirkup, and was handed a 30-month sentence for injuring her son, who suffered a broken leg, to run concurrently, on Thursday morning.

He was also banned from driving for eight years.

He pleaded guilty to charges of causing death by dangerous driving and causing injury by dangerous driving.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, said: “The defendant’s Ford Focus struck Shantelle on her right hand side. Shantelle was propelled forward. She hit her son, but her body protected him from the full force of being hit by the car. Shantelle had hold of his hand for his safety, that last act of care helped propel him out of the path of the vehicle thereby probably saving his life.

“In the split second after the impact the defendant stopped his car and then drove a short distance to the nearside. Mr. Kirkup, not initially realising the enormity of what had just happened, thought the defendant was driving off after a collision and went to stop him.

“He then realised his wife and son were both lying on the road. He began to scream in anguish.”

He added: “The glasses that the defendant claimed he was wearing were actually seized from his former partner’s house after the interview. They were in a damaged state. It was evident that the defendant had not worn them whist driving as he knew he was required to do. Despite this he had set off on a journey that took him through a number of residential streets and on to a busy arterial road.

“The defendant’s vision records were examined. He had previously reported that the visual field on his left eye had been constricted with a loss of virtually half of the visual field on the left side. It was, of course, on the left side of his vision that the Kirkup family entered the crossing.”

Mrs Kirkup, 29, from Northallerton, died after being struck by Levy's blue Ford Focus in Darlington town centre last May.

She was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough but died from her injuries a few hours later.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC, told Levy that his actions had devastated Mrs Kirkup’s loving family.

He said: “You knew that area well, you were aware of the speed restriction and you were aware that pedestrians would have been crossing at that busy crossing but you didn’t allow for that.

“You simply failed to see these pedestrians in time and by the time you saw them it was too late. They were there to be seen but failed to see them. You should not have been driving without your glasses but you chose to ignore that and you chose to drive without them.”

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Constable Natalie Horner from Durham Police's Collision Investigation Unit, said: “This was a truly devastating incident, which is one of the worst I have ever had to deal with as a police officer.

“As a result of Levy’s actions, a family has been cruelly torn apart and two young children have been left without their mum.

“This has been a long and complex investigation, and we have worked tirelessly to ensure Levy paid the price for his actions.

“I can only hope that Levy’s guilty pleas and subsequent sentence can provide some solace to Shantelle’s family, who have supported the police investigation throughout during an unimaginably difficult time.”