Driver who killed pedal cyclist walks free from court

A driver who knocked over a cyclist who later died has walked free from court.

Denis Moore, who did not have a full driving licence, was given a suspended jail term for causing the death of 55-year-old James Jorgensen.

The court heard Mr Jorgensen was negotiating the roundabout on the B1287 North Road outside his home in Seaham's East Shore Village, when the back wheel of his bicycle was clipped by Moore's Hyundai Matrix.

Mr Jorgensen was not wearing a helmet and died from head injuries two weeks later.

"The accident was witnessed by a driver who was following," said Lesley Kirkup, prosecuting at Durham Crown Court.

"He describes seeing Mr Jorgensen on the roundabout and then seeing Moore enter the roundabout at about 15 to 20mph.

"He then saw the car hit the bicycle and Mr Jorgensen thrown into the air by the impact."

The court heard Moore, 50, was driving his partner's Motability car.

She was a passenger at the time, but she is not qualified to supervise him because she does not have a licence.

Moore, of Byron Terrace, Houghton, admitted causing death by careless driving, and driving otherwise than in accordance with his licence on September 24, last year.

In mitigation Ron Mitchell said Moore was of previous good character. "Mr Moore had not taken a test, but he had been driving without incident for eight years.

"All the evidence suggests he was driving responsibly this day, but he just did not see this cyclist. It was a momentary lapse."

Mr Mitchell said that although "the consequences for him pale into insignificance compared to those for victim's family," Moore had struggled since the tragedy.

"He has been unable to hold down his job and has twice been admitted to a hospital for people with mental health problems."

Judge Richard Lowden sentenced Moore to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for one year, and ordered him to observe a night-time curfew for three months.

The judge said: "I have read a statement from the victim's family which details the grievous effect this has had on them. Commendably, it expresses no feelings of hatred towards yourself.

"Unpalatable as it may be to the family, you are entitled to put forward in mitigation the fact that Mr Jorgensen was not wearing a helmet.

"Causing death by careless driving is a fairly new offence and there are sentencing guidelines, which I am bound by.

"This case is somewhere between two categories, one suggests prison, the other not."

The judge disqualified Moore from driving for two years and ordered him to take an extended test if he wishes to drive again.