A new BBC documentary tells of a family’s six-year wait for justice after their mum died of life-changing injuries she suffered in a crash in Darlington.

On June 13 2016, Monika Lewandowska was walking along Easson Road in Darlington when she was hit at speed by a car.

Behind the wheel was Lewis Heslop. The 33-year-old was three times over the drink-drive limit and was driving at double the speed limit when he mounted the pavement, ploughing into Monika.

The moments before the crash in 2016 as Monika is hit by Heslop driving his friend's car.The moments before the crash in 2016 as Monika is hit by Heslop driving his friend's car. (Image: DURHAM POLICE)

He had been drinking for the entire weekend before taking his friend’s car without permission and racing off at speed and witnesses told how they heard the engine revving loudly seconds before impact with the then-41-year-old Pole who had only moved to the UK in 2013, looking for a fresh start after divorcing her husband and leaving her family behind in Poland.

In the new documentary, her mum Halina Brzezinska says: “He should get the maximum penalty possible.

“They don’t have a mother. The children don’t have a grandmother, and I don’t have a daughter.

“This is the worst thing that can happen to you when you have to bury your own child.”

Monica's mum Halina Brzezinska (centre) and daughters Angelica Lewandowska (left) and Paulina Lewandowska (right).Monica's mum Halina Brzezinska (centre) and daughters Angelica Lewandowska (left) and Paulina Lewandowska (right). (Image: BBC)

In 2016 Heslop admitted caused her catastrophic injuries and was jailed for four years. He was already banned for a previous drug-driving offence.

DC Natalie Horner told the BBC doc: “It’s heartbreaking to think she’s here from Poland. She hasn’t got anyone around her, her loved ones are miles away and not one of us expected her to survive.”

Breaking down in tears the officer says: “Being a mum, I would want my mam… You’d want to be there wouldn’t you?

The scene of the crash.The scene of the crash. (Image: DURHAM POLICE)

“Monika’s family wanted to be there with her at her bedside, but what they didn’t want was her to die on her own. Monika’s mam asked me to stay there when the machines were turned off, and she didn’t die – Monika clearly didn’t want to give up that fight there and then and stayed alive.”

The documentary shows the heartbreaking moment Monika sheds a tear as her helpers play the guitar to her and sing in Polish.

Monika Lewandowska with one of her daughters.Monika Lewandowska with one of her daughters. (Image: DURHAM POLICE)

She was given specialist nursing care for six years until she died aged 44 on June 23, 2022 in hospital in Sunderland. Heslop had returned to the streets following his jail spell.

The documentary tells how DC Horner, unhappy with the original sentence wanted to take the case back through the courts to get justice done, in a move never before attempted.

She says: “My initial thought was we need to investigate. If she has died as a result of that road traffic collision, this is now a death by dangerous driving.

Heslop was charged on December 15, 2023 and pleaded guilty before the courts.

Lewis Heslop.Lewis Heslop. (Image: Durham Constabulary)

On May 31 Judge Howard Crowson sentenced Heslop to a further three years and 11 months on top of the four years the defendant had already served. The BBC programme tells how her family watched the sentencing via a video stream from Poland.

“You were entirely to blame, the car had no fault and you were driving too quickly while more than three times over the legal limit for driving,” he said.

“You do bear a high responsibility for Monica’s death, you took the deliberate decision to ignore the rules of the road, taking a friend’s car in a state of intoxication which showed a remarkable disregard for the dangers and risks of others.

“Your driving was highly impaired by the consumption of that alcohol and your speed was significantly in excess of the speed limit.”

The documentary is available to watch in full on BBC iPlayer as part of the ‘The Big Cases’ series.