The heartbroken mother of a teenager killed when his best friend crashed his van told him - 'My life will never be the same again'.

Philip Plews suffered fatal head injuries when the Ford Transit van smashed into a tree after Luke Ford lost control of the vehicle as he sped towards a roundabout.

The 20-year-old admitted causing the death of Mr Plews by careless driving on February 2, 2022, on Carmel Road South, Darlington, at Teesside Crown Court.

His mother, Ann-Marie Robinson, told a judge of the devastating impact the loss of her 17-year-old son had on her family in a powerful victim impact statement.

The Northern Echo: Philip PlewsPhilip Plews (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Fighting back tears, she said: “He was respectful and so close to his sister, the heartache of that night will never go away.

“When I got there, I knew at that moment that it was my son. They were taking him to the ambulance and I was screaming at them to pull the sheet from his face so that he could breathe.

“They did, they told me to go home but I couldn't go home without Philip. My life will never be the same again.

“Going to the mortuary and looking at his face, it just seemed like he was sleeping.

"I sat in the funeral home for days. I wasn't ready to say goodbye. It was one of the hardest moments of my life."

The Northern Echo: Philip PlewsPhilip Plews

Speaking directly to Ford, she said: "You've destroyed my family. You've taken Philip from us. It was your responsibility when you had two children in your van, you shouldn't have been driving over the speed limit."

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

The court heard how Ford was carrying two passengers in his white transit van - Philip Plews and a 14-year-old child – at the time of the crash.

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

Judge Howard Crowson sentenced Ford to a three-year community order with a six-month mental health treatment requirement, attend 35 rehabilitation activity requirement days and carry out 300 hours of unpaid work.

He told the family that no sentence would be able to replace the loss of their son.

The 20-year-old was also banned from driving for three years and told he must pass an extended driving test before driving on the roads again.