Van driver cleared of killing cyclist

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A VAN driver has been cleared of causing the death of a cyclist in an early morning smash.

Elizabeth Brown, 43, died instantly when her bicycle was hit from behind as she travelled to work.

Daniel Mackay denied causing her death by careless driving during a trial at Newcastle Crown Court.

Jurors yesterday found him not guilty.

The 24-year-old, of Cross Street, Houghton, told the court during the trial he had not seen Miss Brown.

He said a van in front of  him suddenly swerved to the right as he took the slip road exit on the A189 Spine Road, near Cramlington, where he hit the cyclist.

Prosecutors claimed he was driving too close to the van in front when the accident happened and should have been able to prevent the collision.

But Mackay insisted it was not his driving that led to the fatal crash.

He told the jury: “All I can remember is the van in front pulling out urgently and straight away in front of me was the cyclist.”

Mackay was heading to work in Bedlington and taking the slip road when the accident happened, at 7.15am, on April 13, last year.

Miss Brown, who was just days from her 44th birthday and engaged to be married, was on her way to Wansbeck District Hospital, where she worked as a physiotherapist.

The experienced rider and triathlete was wearing high-visibility clothes and visored helmet. She also had reflectors fitted to her cycle.

Mackay had no traces of drink or drugs in his system and had not been speeding, the court heard.

He said: “There was a car in front. It moved to one side and a cyclist was there. I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t turn to avoid her.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho