A MOTHER has spoken of the unbearable pain of losing her 17-year-old son – killed in a crash caused by a driver fuelled with alcohol and a cocktail of drugs.

“How do you put into words the loss of a child? How do you explain a broken heart? It is the worst pain in the world," Michelle Heeney said.

“The ache to my heart is unbearable. It’s like living in a nightmare you cannot get out of.”

Ms Heeney’s poignant statement was read out at Newcastle Crown Court, where Connor Anthony Bainbridge, 21, of South View, Ushaw Moor, Durham, was jailed for causing the death by dangerous driving of 17-year-old Stephen Thompson, of Bearpark, Durham.

Stephen was a passenger in a Skoda Fabia car driven with “gross recklessness” by Bainbridge, when it crashed at speed into the wall of a bridge on the B6302 Newhouse Road, Esh Winning, at 7am on Saturday, July 1 last year.

Sentencing Bainbridge to five years and four months in jail, Mr Justice Goss said: “The consequences of what you did that morning can never be undone.

“A life was needlessly lost and the impact of that loss on his family is very understandably immense. It will remain with them for the rest of their lives.”

The court was told that after a night without sleep and partying and consuming cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy as well as drinking alcohol, Bainbridge drove a Skoda Fabia in a “grossly reckless manner” on Newhouse Road.

Mark Giuliani, prosecuting, said Bainbridge, who had only a provisional licence, was travelling at what was later calculated to be 69mph when he overtook a car in a 40mph zone.

Bainbridge narrowly avoided a head-on crash with another car and almost collided with the car he was overtaking. His car reached a speed of 78mph as he approached the 30mph limit, when he lost control.

Mr Giuliani said: “The Skoda went airborne with all four wheels leaving the road, it rotated for 90 degrees for about 20 feet before it hit the brick wall of the bridge.”

Stephen, who was a passenger in the back seat died at the scene of “unsurvivable multiple injuries”. A 17-year-old girl, who was in the front passenger seat – and whose mother owned the car – suffered serious injuries and had to undergo major surgery.

Bainbridge told doctors at the scene: “I’ve been stupid. I’ve been drinking vodka and taking cocaine. A few lines and a load of vodka.”

In her statement Ms Heeney said: “Stephen was the youngest of my three children. From the minute that he was born he was mummy’s boy.

“We were so close and, as the years passed, nothing changed. I would joke ‘you can’t leave home until you are 30’. Stephen was my rock... my entire world. I’m struggling to see a future without him. There was so much laughter at home now there is only just silence.

“I can’t seem to focus on anything I can’t sleep because the minute I shut my eyes all I see is Stephen battered and bruised. It is a vision and I cannot get out of my head.”

She added: “I spend most days and nights at the cemetery, it is the only place I want to be. Losing Stephen has totally shattered us as a family. His brother and sister are so angry. It’s just not normal for them.

“We are all just numb. Christmas was hard. Stephen was always the first to get the tree out and he was always trying to peek at his presents. But this year there were no gifts. The house was empty.”

Ms Heeney said the family had marked what would have been her son’s 18th birthday at his graveside.

She said: “Stephen was looking for to getting his first motorbike, which he hounded me for for years. I finally said yes when he was 18.

“I was so excited to see his face. His human rights were taken away. Do not get me wrong, I totally accept that Stephen got into the car of his own choice, but he did not choose to die. Connor took the choice and he took Stephen’s life.”

Stephen was a Newcastle United football fan and would go to matches with his father, brother and five uncles.

Ms Heaney said: “He loved being out with his mates and loved the girls and certainly they loved him back.”

Stephen was in the second year of college to become a plumber. Martin Scarborough, mitigating, said Bainbridge was remorseful and accepted it was his decision to drive. He told the court that Bainbridge had lost his father when he was 18 and had turned to drugs, particularly cocaine, as a “coping mechanism”.

Bainbridge, who was also seriously hurt in the crash, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving. He was banned from driving for five years, with effect from his release from prison.

Speaking after the hearing, Ms Heeney said: “Whatever the sentence is, it is never going to bring Stephen back. I would have expected it to be lot more. The last nine and a half months have been utter hell.”