A VAN driver wept in court yesterday as he took to the witness stand to deny causing the death of cyclist Elizabeth Brown by careless driving.
The 43-year-old died instantly when her bicycle was hit from behind on the A189 Spine Road near Cramlington as she cycled to work last year.
Daniel Mackay yesterday denied causing her death by careless driving.
Mackay wept as he took to the witness stand in front of a jury at Newcastle Crown Court.
The 24-year-old said he hadn’t seen Miss Brown. He told the court a silver van travelling in front of him suddenly swerved to the right as he took the slip road exit where he hit the cyclist.
The prosecution alleges 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 yesterday insisted it was not his driving that led to the fatal crash.
“All I can remember is the van in front pulling out urgently and straight away in front of me was the cyclist,” he said.
Mackay was heading to his 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 away 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 as well as a visored helmet, and had reflectors fitted to her cycle.
Mackay, from Cross Street, Houghton- le-Spring, had no traces of drink or drugs in his system and had not been speeding, the court heard.
He was interviewed twice by police, the first time on the afternoon of the crash, before being charged.
He said: “There was a car in front. It moved to one side and a cyclist was just there.
“I couldn’t stop and I couldn’t turn to avoid her. She was just there and I couldn’t stop. It all happened so fast.”
He denies being too close to the van in front.
Mackay has no previous convictions and has never been in trouble before, other than three points added to his driving licence for parking on a yellow line in 2011.
Members of the jury were presented with references from his employer Hoton Heating Ltd, where he has worked for four and a half years.
The owner described Mackay as “hard-working and very conscientious”.
A second reference from building firm Frank Haslam Milan, which runs sites where Mackay has worked as a plumber, described him as “friendly and hard-working” and said he drives on site in a “careful and cautious” way.
The trial continues today.