A FORMER police officer has avoided prison after causing the death of a cyclist.

Brian Cole, of Pine Road, Four Marks, was found guilty of causing death by careless driving following a trial at Winchester Crown Court.

As previously reported, the 64-year-old claimed he was not aware of his actions when he fatally hit cyclist Stephen Turner on the A31 Alton Bypass, near Four Marks, on November 18, 2016.

During the trial, members of the jury were told Mr Turner would have been visible to motorists around 20 seconds before he was hit by Cole’s Peugeot 207 at around 5.45pm.

Cole, who has Parkinson’s disease, had been over the prescribed limit of methamphetamine, a by-product of his medication.

Prosecutor Tom Wright said: “It’s likely a motorist would have been able to see the cyclist,” adding that although there was no street lighting, Mr Turner had lights on his bike.

He also disputed Cole’s claim that he was not aware of his actions, with a witness who had been driving behind Cole at around 70mph on the eastbound carriageway saying he narrowly avoided colliding with a car he was overtaking prior to the fatal crash.

Mr Wright added: “A competent and careful driver would not have collided with a brightly clothed cyclist visible from hundreds of yards away.”

Speaking during the trial, defence barrister Nicholas Tucker argued Cole had been in a state of “automatism”, meaning “he was not aware of what he was doing”.

Mr Tucker added: “He hadn’t been advised by his doctors that it was unsafe to drive.

“Cole did not brake or take evasive action. His behaviour in the aftermath was bizarre.”

Cole was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, suspended for 24 months. He was also banned from driving for five years and ordered to take a mandatory extended re-test.