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Drunk Mercedes driver, 42, killed non-league footballer friend, 33, in horror crash

A drink and drug-fuelled Mercedes driver who clocked more than 121mph before crashing and killing his non-league footballer friend in the back seat was today jailed for more than six years.

Mark Thompson was behind the wheel of his Mercedes when he reached the staggering speed as he drove along the A19 near Houghton-le-Spring, Sunderland.

The 42-year-old then smashed into the rear of another vehicle with such force that his rear seat passenger, Richard Jordan, was sent flying from the vehicle. The car also went up into the air, hit a barrier and span before landing on its side on a grass verge.

Father-of-two Mr Jordan, 33, died from his catastrophic injuries, while Thompson’s front seat passenger, Lewis Atkinson, suffered a bleed on the brain, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Richard Jordan

Mark Thompson was drunk and high on drugs behind the wheel of his Mercedes when he crashed and killed his rear seat passenger, Richard Jordan, a non-league footballer 

A blood test later revealed that Thompson was over the legal limit for alcohol and benzoylecgonine, a breakdown product of cocaine. Morphine was also found in his system.

Thompson, of Seaham, County Durham, was jailed for six years and eight months after he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Sentencing, Judge Penny Moreland said: ‘[Mr Jordan’s partner and sister] say it is impossible to put into words to describe the loss you have caused to them, to Richard Jordan’s parents, who have lost their son, and to his two girls, who have lost their father.

‘No sentence I can pass can make up for the loss that family have suffered as a result of what you did.’

The court heard that Thompson had driven Mr Jordan and Mr Atkinson – his friends and work colleagues – to the Dun Cow pub, in Seaton, on the evening of 3 August 2019.

They stayed until around 10.30pm then briefly returned to Mr Atkinson’s home before Thompson’s Mercedes was caught on CCTV travelling along Seaton Lane at speeds of between 65mph and 70mph when the limit was 30mph.

Neil Pallister, prosecuting, said Thompson then stopped at a Jet petrol station on Durham Road, where Mr Atkinson bought a tray of lager.

‘Mr Atkinson returned to the Mercedes, put the lager in the rear, and got in the front passenger seat,’ he said.

‘The defendant was sitting in the driver’s seat. It would appear he took a drink from a can before he drove off at 1.20am [on 4 August 2019].’

The court heard Thompson then overtook a taxi, which was waiting to see if the road was clear before pulling out from the garage, and sped off towards the A19.

Witnesses described seeing Thompson’s vehicle travelling at ‘at least 130mph’ as it went south along the dual carriageway.

Then, around 500m before the exit slip for the B1404, Thompson was straddling both lanes when he ploughed into the back of a Vauxhall Corsa.

Thompson's mugshot. His front seat passenger, Lewis Atkinson, suffered a bleed on the brain, Newcastle Crown Court heard

Thompson’s mugshot. His front seat passenger, Lewis Atkinson, suffered a bleed on the brain, Newcastle Crown Court heard

His car was travelling at such speed at the time of impact, that both Mr Jordan and the vehicle’s engine were sent flying into the air, with the latter bursting into flames after coming to rest in the central reservation.

The owner of the Corsa described Thompson’s Mercedes being driven ‘as if it were on a race track’ in the seconds before the crash.

A subsequent police speed analysis report concluded that Thompson was travelling at at least 121mph.

Mr Pallister said: ‘Officers attended the scene and spoke to the defendant, who had been removed from the Mercedes by other motorists.

‘Officers had a brief conversation with the defendant and he confirmed the car was his. The officers noticed he was slurring his words and there was a strong smell of intoxicant liquor on his breath.’

The court heard that Mr Jordan later died from his injuries and Mr Atkinson suffered a small blood clot on his brain and cuts to his head.

Mr Jordan had played non-league football for the likes of Northern League sides Ryhope Colliery Welfare FC and Sunderland RCA FC.

The court heard from Mr Jordan’s sister, Olivia, whose statement read: ‘I’m mourning the loss of my big brother, my confidant, my protector.

‘Richard was always there for me and vice-versa. We could tell each other anything without being judged, knowing we would be there for each other regardless.

‘I’ve held my mum and dad while they cry for their only son, feeling an indescribable pain and helplessness because they hurt so much and there’s nothing I can do.’

In a separate statement, Mr Jordan’s partner described not knowing she was pregnant with the couple’s second daughter at the time of his death and her heartache that he never got to meet his youngest child.

She also said every day was a struggle and slammed Thompson’s ‘selfish and irresponsible’ behaviour.

Martin Scarborough, mitigating, said Thompson, a dad with 17 offences on his record, including for drink-driving, careless driving, failing to provide a specimen of breath, and driving while disqualified, was extremely remorseful and wished he’d been killed instead of his friend.

Mr Scarborough said: ‘He indicated his guilty plea at the earliest opportunity when he appeared in court in May.

‘The death of Richard Jordan is now two years ago. He knows it would ultimately come to this day where he would plead guilty and go to prison.

‘Throughout that time, he has been working so he can support, as best he can, his family and young child.’

Thompson, who must serve two-thirds of his prison sentence, was also banned from the roads for three years, starting upon his release from jail. 

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