A young driver has admitted causing the death of a ‘gentle giant’ Darlington teenager when he crashed a van.

Luke Ford pleaded guilty to killing Philip Plews when the white Transit van crashed on Carmel Road South two years ago.

The 20-year-old lost control of the van near the Elm Ridge Methodist Church at around 7.30pm on February 5, 2022.

Robin Turton, prosecuting, told Teesside Crown Court that ‘excessive speed’ and skidding on a drain cover were contributing factors to the crash that resulted in the death of the 17-year-old.

The Northern Echo: The funeral of Philip Plews in DarlingtonThe funeral of Philip Plews in Darlington

Ford, of Longfield Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to causing the teenager's death by careless driving.

Judge Christopher Smith warned the defendant that custody was a potential sentence as he adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report.

He said: “The court needs much more details about what happened and hear a great deal more information about you and your circumstances.

“Adjourning for a pre-sentence report should not be taken as any indication of what your sentence may be, all options remain open and that includes an immediate prison sentence.”

The Northern Echo: Philip PlewsPhilip Plews

There was an outpouring of grief from within the community following the teenager’s untimely death more than two years ago.

Well-wishers lined the streets on the day of his funeral and hundreds of friends and family gathered to take part in a balloon release in his memory.

Known for his love of fishing, nature, and motorbikes, the “gentle giant” will be remembered as a “wind up merchant” who spent his time taking motors apart and putting them back together.

The Northern Echo: The funeral of Philip PlewsThe funeral of Philip Plews

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A convoy of trucks followed the funeral party to the church, laden with floral tributes to Philip, including nods to his love for cars, his dog and diet coke, photographs, and messages for the popular teenager, as well as a motorbike.

The son of Ann-Marie and Philip, Philip junior was a brother to Chantelle, Natalia, Kellyann, Lisa-Marie, and Frankie.

Paying tribute to him, his uncle Dean said: "He was a fun-loving young man. He loved his music and fishing and his family. He was a typical little lad, taken too soon."

Ford was released on court bail until he is sentenced on May 7 and has been issued with an interim driving ban until that time.