York & North Yorkshire

North Yorkshire cyclist death driver given suspended sentence

A driver who killed a 75-year-old cyclist taking part in a road race has been given a five-month suspended jail sentence.

Peter Barraclough hit Leonard Grayson on the A19 near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, in August.

Mr Grayson died instantly after Barraclough drove into the back of him, throwing him over the car roof.

Barraclough pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving at Teeside Crown Court.

The court heard that Barraclough, 30, from East Cowton near Northallerton, initially thought he had hit a bird before he stopped, looked in his mirror and realised he had struck Mr Grayson.

Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, described the incident last August as "an extremely tragic road traffic accident".

'Veteran rider'

He said Mr Grayson, who lived in Garforth, West Yorkshire with Kathleen, his wife of 49 years, was "by all accounts, a remarkable man who belied his years".

"In his younger years he was a nationally renowned amateur cyclist winning many cups and trophies," he said.

"He regained national recognition, this time as a veteran rider," Mr Makepeace added.

Barraclough had been working in nearby Topcliffe and was driving his Alfa Romeo along the A19 within the speed limit shortly before the accident, the court was told.

"There's no evidence to suggest Mr Barraclough was speeding," Mr Makepeace said.

He added that signs were in place warning motorists of the event, which Barraclough later told police he had seen.

'Sincere condolences'

Police accident investigators said Barraclough would have seen Mr Grayson for at least nine seconds.

But the defendant admitted he had been looking at a low loader lorry on the opposite carriageway just before the crash, the court was told.

Ian West, defending, told Mr Grayson's family, who were in court: "On behalf of Peter Barraclough, can I express his sincere condolences to Kathleen Grayson and her family?

"He could not be more remorseful. He is a decent man, a hard-working man. His life is scarred by this tragic accident as well, as I'm sure Mr Grayson's family understands."

Judge Peter Bowers said Barraclough's driving fell "substantially below what was acceptable".

He decided not to jail Barraclough immediately, but gave him a five-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to do 250 hours of unpaid work.

He also banned him from driving for 18 months.