A speeding, tailgating motorist who sent a text just moments before hitting a cyclist has been jailed for three years and nine months.
Timothy John McLoughlin, 45, was on his way home from a round of golf when he hit 55 year old cyclist Graham Devlin, who was riding on a cycle path set away from the road, wearing high viz clothing.
Mr Devlin, a married father, was killed instantly.
McLoughlin was trying to overtake between two traffic islands when he panicked, cut in sharply, hit a van, flipped and careered across the road.
McLoughlin had sent a short text message 45 seconds before another driver rang 999 to report the collision, leading the court to conclude it was a likely contributor to the crash.
Teesside Crown Court also heard the driver had drunk two pints at the Seaton Carew golf club, but was not over the legal limit, according to the Gazette Live.
He suffered a punctured lung and spent three weeks in hospital before disappearing on a holiday to Egypt despite knowing the police had requested to interview him
Witnesses to McLoughlin’s driving that day described it as “fast and mad” with one commenting on him at the time: “Look at this nutter.”
Mr Devlin’s wife of 23 years said: “If there is a Hell, we are living it,” she said.
McLoughlin, of Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to causing Mr Devlin’s death by dangerous driving.
McLoughlin said in a statement read out in court: “Since the accident I have been constantly upset and saddened for the family of Mr Devlin.
“I know my sincerest apologies to his family cannot in anyway undo the devastating loss I have caused the family.
"However, I do wish to convey how deeply sorry I am for what I did.
"Also, my actions have devastated my family.”
McLoughlin's wife said a long prison sentence would be “unimaginable” for the family.
Judge Howard Crowson said: “No sentence I can pass can assuage the grief or match the loss.
“The sentence I impose is not intended to place a value on the life of Mr Devlin because that life is priceless.”
He jailed McLoughlin for three years and nine months and banned him from driving for four years.