A LORRY driver who knocked over and killed a South Tyneside cyclist has walked free from court.
Father-of-four Sean Ruff, from Cleadon, was killed when his bike was hit from behind by delivery driver Joseph Reed on the A66 at Elton, near Stockton, on May 21, last year.
Teesside Crown Court heard Mr Ruff, 61, a finance director at Able UK Ltd, was taking his regular cycle ride after work, before driving home.
Christine Egerton, prosecuting, said: “Mr Ruff was a keen and experienced cyclist and was wearing a high-visibility jacket, helmet, and his lights were on, even though it was daylight.
“Mr Reed’s 7.5-tonne lorry hit the cycle directly from behind.
“Witnesses said he did not brake or deviate, even after the collision.
“An accident reconstruction found he was travelling at 55mph on the 70mph limit dual carriageway.”
The court heard Mr Ruff died from multiple injuries and his death was likely to have been almost instantaneous.
Reed claimed in his police interview he had seen the cyclist, but there was too much traffic in the outside lane for him to pull out, and too much traffic behind for him to stop.
Ms Egerton added: “Witness accounts do not support that, they say lane two was empty.”
Reed, 50, of Railway Terrace, Crook, admitted causing death by careless driving.
Christopher Dorman O’Gowan, defending, said “Mr Reed has been a hard-working man all his adult life. He does not seek to blame Mr Ruff in any way.
“A thoroughly decent man died that day, and a good man was at the wheel of the wagon.”
Judge Peter Armstrong sentenced Reed to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and banned him from driving for two and a half years.
The judge told him: “Cases such as this are a tragedy for all concerned. Nothing I can say will provide comfort or recompense for the family of Mr Ruff, any life is priceless.
“Your inattention to the road that day was not momentary, but neither was it a prolonged period of inattention.”