Devastated mum of Kempston teenager killed by his drug-driving boss has been "to hell and back"

Apprentice roofer Thomas Smith, 19, was killed in a high speed collision in Bedford in 2018

Thomas Smith. PIC: SWNS
Thomas Smith. PIC: SWNS

A devastated mum of a young apprentice killed by his drug-driving boss says she has been 'to hell and back' since the tragic ordeal.

Apprentice roofer Thomas Smith, 19, was killed in a high speed collision back in 2018 when his boss crashed his van on the way to a job.

Benjamin Norman, 39, an alleged habitual cannabis smoker since his teens, had picked up his young apprentice after taking the drug shortly before leaving for work

Lindsey Smith. PIC: SWNS

A jury was told that Norman drifted across two lanes of a dual carriageway before smashing into a parked lorry in a lay-by on the A421 in Bedford.

Dash cam footage played to the court showed the van travelling at over 60mph when it smashed into the lorry, throwing Thomas from the vehicle.

The roofer suffered only minor injuries, but his apprentice Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene.

His mother Lindsey Smith, 45, from Kempston said: “His death has left a massive void in our lives that will never be filled.

Tributes left following the collision PIC: SWNS

"We will always remember the good times we had together and his cheeky smile.

"Since his death me and his sister have gone through hell and back, as the pandemic has prevented us from having any sort of closure.

"I have been diagnosed with severe mental health issues and PTSD after having to identify my son's body because he was so mashed up from the impact.

"No mother should ever have to see their child that way.

"The case took over three years to get to court, and all that time we've been suffering.

"His boss has a wife and children of his own, which is why I can't understand that he'd put my son's life at risk the way he did."

At the scene of the crash, Norman passed an alcohol test but informed police officers he'd likely fail a drugs test as he'd been smoking cannabis the night before.

Norman was given a blood test later that morning - 13 hours after he claimed he had last smoked the drug.

He was found to have 5.5mg of cannabis per litre of blood in his system - 3.5mg over the legal limit.

A collision expert also found that the Volvo lorry he'd crashed into had been correctly parked, and there were no relevant defects to the van's condition.

The defence case was that Norman had not taken cannabis that morning and lost control of the van because he was suffering from undiagnosed epilepsy.

Since the accident Norman has been diagnosed with a form of epilepsy, but this wasn't a strong enough defence to stop his conviction.

Norman, was found not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, but was convicted of causing death by careless driving while over the prescribed limit for cannabis.

He is facing over four years in prison, and will be sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court later this month.

Lindsey said: "There's nothing that will bring my boy back, but I want to raise awareness about the dangers of driving whilst under the influence of cannabis.

"I want to prevent other families from going through the pain we've been through.

"I know lots of teenage boys and girls smoke weed every day and it's perfectly normal for them.

"But they need to realise when they get behind the wheel they are risking so so much.

"If my story makes one driver stop and think before smoking and driving then it will be worth it."