Cameron Hughes caused the death of Bonnie Rae Barrow in a plane crash
Cameron Hughes, 24, was also talking on his mobile phone moments before he veered off the northbound exit of the A56 near Honcoat on Friday, July 7, when he approached a hairpin bend at high speed.
His passenger, 15-year-old Bonnie Rae Barrow, was seriously injured and taken to hospital, where she later died.
Hughes also suffered injuries.
During the prosecution at Preston Crown Court, Peter Parr read police evidence which provided details of the incident.
A collision investigation report prepared by PC Williams of Lancashire Police concluded that the accident occurred at 7.20pm on Friday, July 7, on the northbound ramp of the A56 Accrington Bypass, at the junction with the A679 Burnley Road.
Investigations found that a Mercedes Sprinter truck approached a tight left turn at between 62 and 68 miles per hour, struck a bridge barrier and fell onto the dirt track below the road.
An eyewitness said that she saw a “young man” sitting on the ground next to the truck after the accident, and she informed him that an ambulance was on the way. He told her his name was Cameron and repeatedly told her he lost control and kept asking “if (Bonnie) was okay.”
Bonnie, a friend of the Hughes family, suffered catastrophic injuries and was taken to Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital where she underwent treatment. She was later taken to Wythenshawe Hospital but died on arrival.
Mr Barr said: “The accused accepted inhaling nitrous oxide through yellow balloons while he was driving.
“This was a long, sustained and deliberate course of dangerous driving. There was prolonged mobile phone use. There was extremely impaired driving.”
An examination of Hughes’ phone revealed that he had sent a message about 30 seconds before the accident.
In a victim personal statement read to the court, Bonnie’s mother, Sarah Barrow, said: “I feel like my life has ended along with Bonnie’s. I was so looking forward to leaving school, going to college, passing my driving test, and maybe even getting married and having children.”
“We thought we could always count on him (Cameron) to take care of Bonnie safely if we wanted to. And I thought Cameron was part of that protection, but that turned out not to be the case.
“I want Bonnie back to causing mischief, making TikTok videos, and keeping me on my toes.
“This Christmas, we won’t be sitting around the tree celebrating. We can’t bring ourselves to celebrate it. It won’t be the same without her.
“I’d give anything to come back with us.”
Richard Dawson, defending, said: “This is a tragic case with catastrophic consequences. One cannot help but be moved when listening to the emotional feelings expressed by Bonnie’s mother.
“It is accepted that there will be an immediate prison sentence. Its purpose is to punish, not rehabilitate.
“It obviously had a big impact on him. He was working as a courier at the time.
“Bonnie was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of this collision. If she had been restrained, things could have ended differently.
Passing sentence, Judge Heather Lloyd said: “Bonnie had just finished her mock GCSE exams and had her whole life ahead of her. She was a much loved member of the family and greatly enjoyed your company.
“Her mother described you and her as having a close relationship, always full of fun and laughter. They believed they could always count on you to take care of Bonnie safely if they needed you.
“Of course, you didn’t intend for this to happen. You and she had a good time driving.”
“There was no force on you to inhale (nitrous oxide) yourself. Laughing gas is dangerous. It is neurological and can cause permanent nerve damage. Next month, it appears the government will make possession of the substance illegal.
“She was not wearing a seatbelt and did not insist that Bonnie do so either.
“A 15-year-old’s life was needlessly snuffed out. This was a tragedy waiting to happen on that journey.
“The effects of your behavior are ones you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. But at least you’ll have a life to live, unlike Bonnie.”
Hughes, of Haddington Drive, Manchester, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.
He was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison, in addition to being banned from driving for eight years and nine months.