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It was a 'catastrophic error of judgement' to try to overtake, court hears...

An Essex white van man has been jailed for eight months for killing a 74-year-old cyclist in a narrow country lane.

The driver, Paul Brinkman, from Romford, was initially up for a charge of causing death by dangerous driving at Cambridge Crown Court.

But having pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of death by careless driving before the trial, this was accepted by the prosecution instead.

Brinkman was handed eight months in prison, and was disqualified from driving for two years and four months for his part in the tragic incident at 5.55am on November 24, 2015.

Ronald Bousted, 74, was said to have been wearing lots of hi-visibility clothing a the time, and was taking advice from his doctor to do plenty of regular exercise.

Emma Nash, prosecuting, said: "Mr Bousted was in the habit of going for half an hour of exercise each morning.

"It was a drizzly day and the defendant was travelling to work in a white van. He was driving behind a motorist in a car who had used that route for 21 years."

About four miles before the collision took place in Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, the other driver noticed Brinkman driving "unnecessarily close" behind him.

According to Essex Live, Miss Nash added: "The driver in front said he remembers thinking 'don't overtake now' as he was, at this point, a few metres away from the cyclist.

"The defendant clearly hadn't seen the victim, because he was too close behind the other driver and his vision was obscured."

A passing HGV driver and off-duty doctor, as well as paramedics, tried in vain to save Mr Bousted’s  life.

Brinkman took eight months away from work after the crash, suffered from depression and found any driving “traumatic”, according to a report made for probation.

Adam Morgan, mitigating, said: "There is no doubt to the extent of loss that Mr Bousted's wife feels, having seen her husband off on his regular morning bike ride.

"This was a single, momentary catastrophic error of judgement.

"The defendant did everything he could at the scene, even phoning 999.

"It's clear he is genuinely remorseful. This is something he is going to have to live with for the rest of his life; he told me he wakes up thinking of this every morning.

"He appreciates the impact of this crash on his victim's wife and knows this largely dwarfs the impact it has had on him.

"References from family and friends describe the defendant as a gentle giant, a man who is caring, dependable and who possesses a strong moral compass."

Sentencing, Judge David Farrell said: "No sentence given by this court could ever reflect the loss of someone's life and no-one can ever turn the clocks back.

"Had you have been more patient, this matter could have been averted."

Mr Bousted was described by his cycling club, Bedfordshire Road Cycling Club,  as "a stalwart member of the club".

On the club's website, a statement said: "Tragically, Ron was killed whilst out cycling on his bike, early on the morning of 24 November 2015, aged 74, on his way home from the pool. Swimming was his passion, and he swam every day."

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.