Killer driver who crashed into his friend’s car than took Snapchat videos walks free from court

Killer driver who crashed into his friend’s car than took Snapchat videos of the wreckage as he lay dying inside walks free from court after admitting causing death by careless driving

  • Thomas Beadle, 20, admitted causing death by careless driving last September 
  • He crashed into back of friend Blaine Darnell’s car while driving too close behind
  • Beadle shared images of the A177 crash in Stockton, Co Durham, over Snapchat
  • Today, Beadle was given a nine month prison sentence suspended for two years

A careless driver who caused the death of his 19-year-old friend walked free from court today – as a judge told him he would spend a lifetime living with the knowledge of what he had done.

Thomas Beadle, 20, of Crook, County Durham, admitted causing death by careless driving after tragedy struck on the A177 Durham Road in Stockton-On-Tees in September last year.

Beadle had been driving behind his friend Blaine 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.

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

After the crash, Beadle sent videos and photographs of the scene to friends over Snapchat while Mr Darnell died in his car.

Thomas Beadle, 20, of Crook, County Durham, admitted causing death by careless driving after tragedy struck on the A177 Durham Road in Stockton-On-Tees in September last year

Thomas Beadle, 20, of Crook, County Durham, admitted causing death by careless driving after tragedy struck on the A177 Durham Road in Stockton-On-Tees in September last year

Blaine Darnell, 19, from County Durham, died when Beadle collided into the back of his Vauxhall Corsa after driving too close and too fast behind him

Blaine Darnell, 19, from County Durham, died when Beadle collided into the back of his Vauxhall Corsa after driving too close and too fast behind him

Today, Mr Darnell’s heartbroken mother told the man responsible for her son’s death that she ‘hates him for what he has done’.

Mr Darnell, who was driving a Vauxall Corsa, had met with friends on the evening of September 29, 2021, including the defendant and, in the three cars, they headed to Teesside Park.

At Teesside Crown Court, Sue Hirst, prosecuting, described how Beadle’s car collided with 19-year-old Blaine’s car at a set of temporary traffic lights, near Stockton – sending him into the Mini in front which was being driven by friend Kieran Clement.

The impact caused Blaine’s Corsa to roll onto its side and into the path of an oncoming vehicle. A Volkswagen Touran then collided with the roof and windscreen of the Corsa on the 50mph section of carriageway.

A post mortem found Blaine died as a result of injuries to his head and neck which occurred on impact and would have resulted in immediate loss of consciousness and death very shortly after. Drivers and an off-duty paramedic who came to his aid were unable to reach Blaine and the paramedic said he appeared to be in cardiac arrest before he tragically died at the scene.

Speaking in court, his heartbroken mother, Zoe Darnell, described the last time she saw her adored son. He had eaten his tea, told her he loved her and headed out to meet friends.

‘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,’ she told the court.

Judge Howard Crowson heard how in the immediate aftermath of the fatal crash, Beadle sent pictures and videos of the scene over Snapchat – which Blaine’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 will have alerted emergency services at the moment of impact. Speaking through tears in court, Zoe said: ‘Thomas, I hate you for what you have done.

‘You speak to your family but Blaine cannot. I’m disgusted by the photos and videos you posted that night knowing he was still in the car.

‘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 Blaine, 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 has struggled to explain why he sent messages on Snapchat but said one of his friends had asked for pictures, the court heard. ‘It’s very clear from the defendant’s messages that he didn’t know the seriousness of what had happened,’ said Fiona Lamb, mitigating.

‘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.

‘He is remorseful and he is devastated,’ she added. The defendant, who now gets to work on a push bike, is terrified of being in a vehicle.

Beadle has not driven since the crash and is an ‘awful passenger’, said Ms Lamb and she describes his fear as ‘palpable’. Beadle 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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