Young mum killed daughter, 3, and cousin in car crash while showing off

A young mum who caused the death of her three-year-old daughter and teenage cousin after they were killed in a car crash has been jailed.

Mary Stokes, 23, who did not have a driving license, admitted she caused the head-on collision in County Durham last September.

As a result, she was jailed for three years and eight months and disqualified from driving for seven years.

During the horrific crash, her daughter was thrown from the car and her 17-year-old cousin passed away in hospital, Durham Crown Court heard.

Stokes, of Cairo Street in Sunderland, began "showing off" in the Peugeot 206 on the A1068 near Horden whilst five passengers – all aged under 18 – were present, the court heard.

During the "persistent" spell of bad driving, the two small children who were present were not in child seats.

The court also heard that the car had recently failed its MOT and Stokes did not have any insurance.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, said Kelsey, 3, was thrown from the car and killed, while Shauna Stokes, who was in the back, died in hospital the following day.

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Earlier the same day, Mary Stokes was seen driving the car erratically in a leisure centre car park with two young children inside.

According to witnesses, the car was being driven by Stokes "at speed" before she had to slow down for traffic.

Witnesses recalled that she then carried out a U-turn and drove off in the opposite direction.

When Stokes tried to overtake another vehicle, she lost control and crashed into an oncoming Mercedes van.

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The van driver was seriously injured in the crash, along with three of the under-18s in the car.

Stokes admitted two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and five counts of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

David Outterside, defending, said his client had been left "bereft" at the loss of her daughter and cousin and was now suffering from "crippling depression and grief".

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Judge James Adkin said she appeared to have focused on giving the occupants a thrill, throwing them around in the car, rather than "shielding them from harm".

He told Stokes: "There is evidence you were showing off to the passengers in your car that day."

Sergeant Cat Iley of Durham Police said: "This was a horrific incident for all those involved, including the emergency service workers who attended the scene.

"Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the two girls who tragically lost their lives in this collision."

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