Drink and drug-fuelled driver clocked 121mph before crashing and killing non-league footballer pal

A drink and drug-fuelled driver clocked more than 121mph before crashing and killing his passenger.

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

The 42-year-old then smashed into the rear of another vehicle with such force that his rear seat passenger, non-league footballer Richard Jordan, was sent flying from the vehicle.

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The car also went up into the air, hit a barrier and span before landing on its side on a grass verge.

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

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.

Now, Thompson, of Seaton Crescent, in Seaham, County Durham, has been jailed for six years and eight months after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Locking him up, 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.”

Richard Jordan who was killed in a crash on the A19 near Houghton-le-Spring
Richard Jordan who was killed in a crash on the A19 near Houghton-le-Spring
(Image: Northumbria Police)

The court heard that Thompson had driven his friends and work colleagues Mr Jordan and Mr Atkinson to the Dun Cow pub, in Seaton, near Seaham, on the evening of August 3 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 30.

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

Mr Pallister continued: “Mr Atkinson returned to the Mercedes, put the lager in the rear and got in the front passenger seat.

“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.”

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

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 added: “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.

In a statement, Mr Jordan’s sister outlined the family’s “indescribable pain”, which never goes away.

She said: “The emotional impact Richard’s death has had on me has forced me to live a life I don’t recognise.

“The constant bad dream that is reality. I must watch videos of him so I can hear his voice, see his smile and hear his laugh.”

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, defending, said dad Thompson, who has 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 added: “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, which will start on his release from jail.

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Chronicle Live – Sunderland