A MUM says she feels no anger towards her son's best friend who pleaded guilty to causing his death by careless driving while nearly double the alcohol limit.
Wendy Saporita-Moss said the pair would never have done anything to intentionally hurt one another and added: "They just loved each other, it's so sad."
Matthew Saporita, 23, suffered a fatal head injury when a Subaru Imprezza rally car driven by pal Robert Alexander Clark - known as Alex - crashed into a wall on Rising Bridge Road, Hasling-den, in April 2005.
Father-of-two Alex, 26, of Stanhill Lane, Oswaldtwistle, recovered from serious injuries including a broken jaw, teeth, ribs and collar bone.
He was given a 12-month suspended sentence and 100 hours community punishment at Preston Crown Court.
Alex is the partner of Matthew's sister Nicola. Matthew was due to be best man at their wedding which was postponed because of the court case.
Speaking exclusively to the Observer from her new home in the Lake District, Wendy formerly of Whalley Road, Accrington, said Alex was like a second son to her.
She said: "He had lived with us as his family since he was 14. It was fantastic. We have always had a happy, family-orientated household.
"There are no winners in this situation. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about what actually happened that night but we do now feel that we can finally put Matthew to rest and I am sure the grieving process will kick in, though we still have a very long way to go."
Wendy, who remarried four years ago, added: "I loved Alex and I still love him just as if he were one of mine.
"When I saw him in hospital after the crash he just put his arms around me. He didn't know what had happened and he still doesn't.
"How can I be angry when they both made the decision to get in that car after having a drink? I am just glad that Matthew was not on his own when he died, he wouldn't have wanted to be with anyone else but Alex.
"To me the family is very, very important. Before this even happened we knew that we were all close but now something like this has come along I don't think anything could ever tear us apart."
Matthew was a keen swimmer, competing in the Great Britain Catholic Schools championships and scooping seven gold medals.
The former Mount Carmel pupil went on to study sports science, CDT and physics, battling through his studies while his father Joe's health deteriorated because of cancer.
He eventually moved to Leeds to join a swimming club but an injury forced a change of career and he trained to be a joiner.
It was during a trip back to Accrington to see his family that he was killed.
Matthew's ashes will be scattered next Easter in Sicily, where a lot of his family live, at the same spot as those of his dad and grandad Frank.
After the court case Wendy said the family were unhappy with the way the police investigation had been carried out and angry that an eye-witness's personal details were never recorded. Nicola had also told police that her brother originally got into the driver's seat, a statement which appears not to have been taken into account.