A DRIVER who lost control of his car causing a smash near Cookley which killed his girlfriend has been spared jail.

Thomas Whitehouse was told by a judge the death of Samantha Jennings was the result of tragic events and, despite his guilty plea to causing death by careless driving, a suspended prison sentence was appropriate.

Miss Jennings, 26, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, when a car driven by Whitehouse, which contained the couple plus Whitehouse’s best friend, hit a wall and a tree at around 1.20am on December 8, 2012 on the A449 near the Island Pool pub.

The court heard an extract from a statement by Miss Jennings’ mother describing the effect of the loss on her family - including her daughter’s two sons now aged nine and ten.

The statement said: “My world just fell apart, when the boys woke up they knew something was wrong – we told them mummy had gone to see granddad in Heaven.

“It breaks my heart to know the boys will never see their mum again – I feel like a part of me died with her.”

Miss Jennings, from Kingswinford, had been in a relationship with 22-year-old Whitehouse since the summer of 2012 and the court heard she told her mother he treated her “better than any man she had ever known.”

Gurdeep Garcha, for Whitehouse, also revealed Miss Jennings’ mother said she would be disappointed if Whitehouse, 22, of Burns Close, Stourbridge, was jailed.

As he sentenced Whitehouse to four months in prison suspended for 12 months, Judge Patrick Thomas QC paid tribute to Miss Jennings’ mother saying her statement was “the most moving, controlled and powerful statement of its kind I have ever read.”

The hearing was told Whitehouse was a man of previous good character who suffered serious injuries in the crash which resulted in the loss of his left leg.

He had not been drinking on the night of the crash and although traces of cannabis were found in his blood, and a quantity of cannabis was found in his car, the judge ruled the drug could have been in his system for a long time and could not be considered a factor in the cause of the smash.

The judge said: “The overwhelming likelihood is the cause is probably a slight excess of speed or short, but not momentary, inattention.

“A significant aggravating feature is the three people in the car were not wearing seatbelts.”

The judge also said there was powerful personal mitigation in Whitehouse’s favour and he had pleaded guilty at the first possible occasion and shown genuine remorse.

Mr Garcha added his client publically “wishes to express sincere and heartfelt apologies to the family for what he has done.”

Whitehouse was also banned from driving for 18 months.