A man died after he was impaled in the chest with a fence post in a horrific car crash.
Christopher Sanderson was giving Michael Armstrong a lift home from the Philadelphia pub, in Houghton-le-Spring, Tyne and Weir, when he lost control of his vehicle.
Sanderson smashed into a wooden fence with such force that some panels were sent flying onto the roof of a nearby house and others pierced through the vehicle hitting Mr Armstrong, who was sat on the back seat.
Newcastle Crown Court heard it was not clear how badly injured Mr Armstrong was at first as former solider Sanderson drove the badly damaged Vauxhall Zafira away from the collision.
Mr Armstrong managed to get out after a short distance but then other passengers realised he had been impaled with the wood, reports Chronicle Live.
Mr Armstrong underwent emergency surgery at the RVI but his injuries were not survivable and he died three days later from organ failure.
Sanderson then fled to Carlisle but was arrested on February 20 and interviewed, the court heard.
Sanderson later claimed he was distracted by rowdy passengers and lost control when he turned round to tell them to stop.
He pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving, causing death while driving uninsured, dangerous driving – after the collision – failing to stop after an accident and failing to report an accident.
As he was jailed for six months, Mr Armstrong's daughter, Rebecca, read an emotional statement setting out the impact her dad's death has had.
The 18-year-old said: "Our lives have been devastated by the death of my father.
"He was polite, happy, sociable and had a helpful nature with a great sense of humour."
Rebecca said she spoke to him on the weekend he died and he said he was going out with friends and told her "love you, bye".
She told the court: "Unbeknown to me that was bye forever, that was the last time I spoke to him."
Rebecca told how the family had to take the heartbreaking decision to turn off her dad's life support machine and "slowly watch him pass away".
She added: "We all love him so much, letting go is so hard and painful.
"We are torn between wanting to remember and wanting to forget. I struggle to accept he is dead.
"How could this have happened? Why? Why did it have to be a fatal accident?
"How do you come to terms with something as awful as this?
"His life came to an end horrifically and brutally.
"I still see images of him passing away in hospital. I never thought I would have to face such a situation.
"We didn't have a chance to say goodbye to him, to tell him how much we loved him.
"I can't believe I will never see him again. The hurt and pain will always be with us.
"We miss him every day and will do for the rest of our lives.
"He lost his life in a wholly senseless, avoidable manner. He only accepted a lift home like people do every day, except this time he did not come home, he will never come home.
"We want to bring home to Christopher Sanderson what he has done. He has inflicted a terrible wound on our family, the scars of which will be with us for the rest of our lives.
"Our hearts are broken and when they are eventually put back together there will forever be a piece missing."
The court heard it was on February 16 last year that Sanderson had been to the Philadelphia with his wife.
They left around 11.20pm and gave a number of people a lift in his motability Vauxhall, including Mr Armstrong.
Just 170m from the pub, he lost control of the car, crossing a road and crashing into a fence, destroying a 20 metre section of the six foot "double skinned" fence.
Christopher Rose, prosecuting, said it was hit with such force, parts of the fence smashed through the window of a house and landed on the roof of the property.
He added: "The vehicle suffered extensive damage and, tragically, the panels were able to penetrate into the passenger and driver's compartment at the top of the bonnet and between the windscreen and penetrated the dashboard and caused terrible injuries to Michael Armstrong."
Not realising the injuries he had caused, Sanderson reversed the badly damaged car back onto the road and drove away for just less than a mile before telling people to get out.
Mr Rose said Mr had a plank sticking out of his chest but somehow managed to manoeuvre out of the car.
He added: "He then collapsed on the pavement and was tended to by two of the other passengers.
"Only then did they realise the extent of the injury he had sustained."
Sanderson said the men in the car were being noisy and someone had poked him in the back of the head while he was driving and, as he turned round to deal with the disturbance, he lost control.
He said he asked if everyone was okay before driving away and did not know Mr Armstrong was injured.
Sanderson, 35, from Shiney Row, will be banned from driving for three years after he is released from serving up to half of the six month prison sentence.
David Lamb, defending, said: "Christopher Sanderson deeply wishes he could turn back the clock to February 16 last year to alter what appears to have begun as an act of kindness and generosity and became one of unimaginable tragedy caused by a momentary lapse of concentration within a short period of leaving the pub.
"He says the lads in the back were being noisy and one was prodding him in the head and he turned round to tell them to stop and lost control and crashed.
"He should have stopped and brought the vehicle to a halt and he didn't do that."
Mr Lamb said Mr Armstong was a friend of Sanderson's and he had known him all his life and he sought to reassure his family that he does understand the enormity of what he did.
He said: "He will have to live with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life on a daily basis.
"The defendant is living with the guilt, which is punishment in itself and he has shown remorse and fully regrets his actions."
Mr Lamb said the car was registered in Sanderson's name and he believed he was insured to drive it.
The court heard he is a former gunner in the army who has five children, three of whom have medical problems and Sanderson has been diagnosed with ADHD.
Sanderson was injured in 2007 in an attack and has been left with serious problems with his back which will make prison more difficult for him.
Mr Lamb said: "It can only be described as a tragic case."
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