A MOTORIST who killed a cyclist during the victim’s early-morning commute escaped a jail sentence on Monday.

Alastair Dudgeon was killed near to the Kincardine Bridge around about 2am on 6th January last year following a collision with a Vauxhall Astra driven by James Sneddon.

The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Mr Dudgeon, of High Valleyfield, cycled regularly to and from his work as a baker at a Tesco store at Camelon on the outskirts of Falkirk.

First offender Sneddon (42) of Morar Drive, Falkirk, phoned an ambulance after his car hit the mountain bike of Mr Dudgeon.

Paramedics who attended at the scene found no sign of a pulse on the victim, who was taken to the Forth Valley Hospital at Larbert.

Mr Dudgeon was found to have suffered a broken neck, rib fractures and internal injuries, including to the aorta - the main artery from the heart.

The Crown charged Sneddon with causing the death of Mr Dudgeon on the A985 between Longannet roundabout and the Kincardine Bridge by driving dangerously by failing to observe the cyclist and colliding with the rear of his bike.

Sneddon had denied the charge and he was earlier found guilty by a jury of the lesser offence of causing death by careless driving after a trial - an offence which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.

Judge Nigel Morrison QC ordered that Sneddon should carry out 300 hours’ unpaid work under a community payback order.

The judge said, “The death of Alastair Dudgeon at the age of 51 is a tragedy for his family.” He said Mr Dudgeon’s widow was “devastated” by the loss.

But the judge said he took into account that there was no deliberate course of bad driving, nor were there aggravating features such as drinking or using a phone. He noted that Sneddon had been assessed as posing a very low risk of re-offending.

The customer services adviser told police that he was travelling at 40mph.

One witness who was driving home with his wife said the weather conditions were clear and although the stretch of road was unlit, visibility was reasonable.

They came across the black car parked horizontally across the carriageway and after they stopped saw that a person was lying in the middle of the road with others round about him.

James Teenan (39) said he saw a bike on the verge with a buckled wheel and a rear light that was still on. He said, “I believe it was flashing red.” A crash scene investigator who was called out said it was bright enough to be seen. A colleague said that on that stretch of road a cyclist was entitled to be on the carriageway.

A police constable told the court that he could clearly see the red flashing light as he drove to the scene and estimated he could see it from about 200 metres away.

Advocate depute Bruce Erroch pointed out that the Highway Code said to give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders as least as much room as when overtaking a car.

The prosecutor told jurors that if they thought Mr Dudgeon contributed in some way to his death by not wearing a high visibility jacket that was not something that absolved the driver.

He said that what mattered was that the driver should have seen him well before the collision and taken steps to avoid the cyclist.

Defence counsel Emma Toner said Sneddon recognised the devastating impact that the incident had on the dead man’s family.

She said, “He has expressed genuine remorse for having been the cause of their loss.” She said he was careless in failing to allow sufficient space to overtake the cyclist.

Sneddon was also banned from driving for four years and told he would have to re-sit a test.