A GRIEVING husband told yesterday how a practical joke by his teenage wife cost her life.

Derek Jobes, 57, was driving home with his wife Cassandra when he pulled over into a layby to stretch his legs.

As he stood by the car, Cassandra, 19, leapt into the driver's seat and roared away, leaving him stranded.

But the prank backfired when Cassandra - who had no driving licence and had only had two driving lessons - smashed into a roundabout.

The couple's Vauxhall Vectra overturned and Cassandra was killed instantly.

Mr Jobes, of South Moor, Stanley, County Durham, said he was struggling to understand the sequence of events.

He said: "I will never know what possessed her to get into the car and drive off like that.

"Cassie was full of fun and loved a joke. Maybe this was a practical joke which got out of hand.

"I could have understood it if we had just had a row, but she was in good spirits and seemed happy."

Mr Jobes, who is disabled, said they had been to South Shields, in South Tyneside, on Monday and were driving home when they stopped on the A194(M).

Police said other motorists saw the Vectra being driven erratically, and it almost hit a motorist who had pulled into the hard shoulder to change a wheel near the Chester-le-Street slip-road.

Investigators believe Mrs Jobes was not wearing a seat-belt.

Mr Jobes, a former labourer, who suffers from arthritis, said: "Cassie was a lovely girl. She was my wife and she was my carer. I cannot believe she is not here, I keep thinking I can hear her voice. I am absolutely heartbroken."