A JUDGE paid moving tribute to bride-to-be Elizabeth Brown after a young driver was cleared of blame for her death.
The experienced cyclist and superfit triathlete lost her life when Daniel Mackay’s works transit van hit her bike from behind at 60mph.
Mr Mackay walked free yesterday after a Newcastle Crown Court jury found him not guilty of causing death by careless driving on the A189 spine road near Cramlington, Northumberland.
And while the tearful 23-year-old struggled to keep his composure in the dock, Judge Brian Forster began a poignant eulogy to the late Miss Brown.
Judge Forster said “Whatever verdict was returned, nothing could have replaced Elizabeth Brown.
“She was a highly -regarded physiotherapist at Wansbeck Hospital, and it’s clear she helped others. She made a major contribution to health services in the county.”
Miss Brown, from Jesmond, Newcastle, was soon to be married.
She was also just days away from her 44th birthday when the accident happened as she cycled to work on a sunny morning in April last year. Judge Forster said “She was loved by her family and by her work colleagues. I note that over 500 people attended her funeral. That is a great testament to her.”
Prosecutors claimed Mr Mackay, from Cross Street, Houghton-le-Spring, should have seen Miss Brown riding ahead of him in high visibility and reflective gear.
But he told the jury how another van had suddenly swerved in front of him, blocking his view until it was too late.
Mr Mackay – who tested clear for both drink and drugs – had wept as he gave evidence during the four-day trial.
He held his head in his hands and shed tears again as the jury cleared him after three hours of deliberation.
In the public gallery, his many supporters cheered the verdict while some shook hands. Judge Forster formally discharged Mr Mackay and approved a defendant’s costs order.
Miss Brown was thrown from her cycle by the devastating impact and died almost instantly. Defence lawyers accepted from the start of the trial she carried no blame for the accident.
After her death, her family released a statement in which they said she would be “sorely missed by her friends, colleagues and her close-knit Tyneside family.”
Mr Mackay, described as “hardworking and conscientious”, was on his way to work in Bedlington when the crash took place.