The devastated mother of Burnley teenager Estelle Thompson has described how her world fell apart when she was told of her beautiful daughter’s death in a car accident.
The awful heartbreak of Elizabeth Marsh was heard at Burnley Crown Court where Estelle’s friend Callum Gray was jailed for two years and eight months after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink and drugs.
Just before I am ready to go to bed I kiss her photo and hold it close to my heart.Elizabeth Marsh, Estelle Thompson’s mother
Estelle (17) was the passenger in Gray’s Ford Ka which crashed into a stone wall after he lost control on a humpback bridge off Manchester Road in Hapton on July 20th last year.
He had been drinking and smoking cannabis following a wedding reception the previous day and night.
Prosecutor Stephen Parker read out a victim impact statement from Estelle’s heartbroken mother Elizabeth Marsh which said: “The day I find out you had gone my world fell apart.
“I could not believe this was happening to our family, I’d always tried to keep all of you safe but I failed this time.
“I have never felt so empty and numb and unbearable pain in my life. When I said to the police officer that I wanted to see Estelle, they were so kind with their words that I knew deep down what the word ‘unrecognisable’ meant, I knew that my baby girl was not beautiful any more because her face and head had taken the impact.
“The thought of this goes through my mind 24 hours a day and seven days a week. All I do every day is think about Estelle, I am unable to eat which has caused me to lose weight.
“I am unable to sleep properly because everything is going through my mind and it will not switch off, so I end crying myself to sleep every night.
“I don’t want to go out anywhere, I just want to stay in the house and sit on the couch thinking about Estelle. I don’t want to do the cleaning up.
“My heart feels that it has been ripped out of me. Just before I am ready to go to bed I kiss her photo and hold it close to my heart.
“I feel so lost without her and broken.”
Mr Parker had earlier told the court that Gray (19) of Tuscan Avenue, Burnley, had been to a wedding reception at the Thornton Arms, Pikehill, with Estelle, her half-brother Ben Marsh and his cousin Sarah Kearney.
The group had returned to Sarah’s house which Gray and Estelle later left in the early hours of the morning.
Mr Parker said: “Ben and Sarah both confirmed that Callum Grey had been drinking but not to excess. They were unaware that he and Estelle had left in his car.”
Mr Parker described the devastating accident which occurred around 5-30am that morning.
Hapton resident nurse Claire Tigh was awoken by the terrible impact of the crash which sounded like someone had “taken off” on the bridge.
Mr Richard Taylor (defending) said that Gray’s remorse was “palpable and genuine” and that he would have to live the rest of his life with his disastrous decision to drive that morning.
Sentencing Gray to two years and eight months in a young offenders’ institution, Judge Beverley Lunt said: “The sentence cannot possibly reflect the value of the young life that was lost and cannot take away the pain. No-one who heard the raw grief of Estelle’s mother could have failed to be moved.”