Driver took Snapchat photos and videos of Stockton A177 crash scene as his friend died in car

Thomas Beadle, 20, had sent videos and photographs of the scene in the immediate aftermath of the crash to friends over Snapchat while Blaine died in his car. Credit: GAZETTE MEDIA COMPANY SYNDICATION

A careless driver has been told his punishment will be a lifetime of living with the knowledge that his actions caused the death of his 19-year-old friend after he avoided a prison sentence.

The mother of Blaine Darnell told the man responsible for her son's death that she "hates him for what he has done".

Thomas Beadle, from Crook, in County Durham, admitted causing death by careless driving on Stockton's A177 Durham Road last September.

The now-20-year-old had sent videos and photographs of the scene in the immediate aftermath of the crash to friends over Snapchat while Mr Darnell died in his car.

Beadle had been driving behind Mr Darnell's car at the time of the crash and failed to pay proper due care and attention to the road and heed to the road signs and hazards, Teesside Crown Court heard.

It meant he was driving his Peugeot 308 too close and too fast behind the vehicle and was unable to stop when he slowed at temporary traffic lights.

He crashed into Mr Darnell's Vauxhall Corsa, which then collided with a Mini in front, being driven by another friend.

The court heard the defendant, Mr Darnell and other friends were on their way to Teesside Park in three cars on the evening of 29 September 2021.

Sue Hirst, prosecuting, said the impact caused Mr Darnell's Corsa to roll onto its side and into the path of an oncoming Volkswagen Touran.

A post mortem examination found Mr Darnell died as a result of injuries to his head and neck.

Blaine Darnell's mother Zoe described him as the "most loving, caring, witty, hard-working child anyone could ask for.” Credit: GAZETTE MEDIA COMPANY SYNDICATION

Speaking in court, his mother, Zoe Darnell, described the last time she saw her son.

She said: “I never thought it would be the last time I saw him alive.

"Only a few hours later I was having to identify my son’s body in hospital - a vision I cannot get out of my head."

Judge Howard Crowson heard how in the immediate aftermath of the fatal crash, Beadle sent pictures and videos of the scene over Snapchat - which Mr Darnell's family would come to see.

Ms Hirst said he was “describing an awful event” which was in “bad taste”.

The court heard he did not call 999 but claims he was aware his car would have alerted emergency services at the moment of impact.

Speaking through tears in court, Ms Darnell said she was "disgusted" by the photos and videos that had been posted and told Beadle she hated him what he had done.

She added: "You should know the cost to me and my family for killing my son, why didn’t you phone an ambulance but instead you took videos as he passed away in the car.”

In tribute to her son, she said: “He should be celebrating his 21st birthday with his friends and family but he isn’t.

"He was the most loving, caring, witty, hard-working child anyone could ask for.”

Beadle struggled to explain why he sent messages on Snapchat but said one of his friends had asked for pictures, the court heard.

Fiona Lamb, mitigating, said: “It’s very clear from the defendant’s messages that he didn’t know the seriousness of what had happened.

“He clearly was aware it was serious but didn’t know how serious the situation was for Blaine.”

Ms Lamb said it may be possible that Beadle may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and that may be one of the reasons why he is unable to talk about what happened.

She added: “He is remorseful and he is devastated."

The defendant, who now travels to work by bicycle, is terrified of being in a vehicle and has not driven since the crash.

Beadle, of Ennerdale Drive, Crook, has no previous convictions or cautions.

Judge Howard Crowson said: “Your true sentence is not going to be imposed by me.

"Your true sentence is a lifetime living with the knowledge that if you had driven with greater care your friend would still be alive.”

Beadle was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for two years. He has also been ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work, complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and has been banned from driving for two years.

He must also adhere to a curfew for four months between 7pm and 6am.

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