A LORRY driver who knocked over and killed a Wearside cyclist has walked free from court.
Father-of-four Sean Ruff, from Cleadon, was killed when his bike was hit behind by Argos delivery driver Joseph Reed on the A66 at Elton, near Stockton.
Teesside Crown Court heard Mr Ruff, 61, was a finance director at Able UK Ltd, and was taking his regular cycle ride after work before driving home.
“It was about 6.20pm,” said Christine Egerton, prosecuting. “Mr Ruff was a keen and experienced cyclist.
“He was wearing a high-visibility jacket, helmet, and his lights were on, even though it was daylight.
“Mr Reed’s 7.5tonne lorry hit the cycle directly from behind.
“Witnesses said he did not brake or deviate, even after the collision.
“Some witnesses feared he was not going to stop, although he did do so.
“An accident reconstruction found he was travelling at 55mph on the 70mph limit dual carriageway.
“Mr Ruff would have been visible for at least nine seconds, or from 227 metres away.”
The court heard Mr Ruff died from multiple injuries.
Reed claimed in his police interview he had seen the cyclist, but there was too much traffic in lane two 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.
“In any case, there was room for Mr Reed to pass safely while remaining in lane one.”
Reed, 50, of Railway Terrace, Crook, admitted causing death by careless driving on May 21 last year.
Christopher Dorman O’Gowan, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Reed has been a hard-working man all his adult life.
“He does not seek to blame Mr Ruff in any way.”
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.”
Judge Armstrong also paid tribute to Mr Ruff’s family.