AN elderly motorist who killed a cyclist in a crash on a country road walked free from court after a judge heard he may have fallen asleep at the wheel.

It is not known exactly why John Plummer, 73, appeared to lose consciousness when he ploughed int the back of James Greenwood on the outskirts of Stockton.

Neurology experts said an undiagnosed onset of Parkinson's Disease could have been to blame, but said it was more likely he fell asleep momentarily.

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Grandfather Mr Greenwood, 74, died in hospital after the accident on Darlington Back Lane in November 2011, Teesside Court was told today (Monday, March 11).

Plummer, of Weaverham Road, in nearby Norton, was given a suspended six-month prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Judge Peter Bowers told him: "This sort of case raises a lot of emotions, and I have to be careful that I reflect in any sentence not only the tragic outcome, but also the culpability you must bear for the death of another human being."

The court heard how ten years ago, Plummer's partner was killed when she was hit by a vehicle on a zebra crossing, and the recent tragedy has brought back painful memories.

David James, mitigating, said the pensioner had no idea he was suffering from a neurological illness and had not felt tired when he was driving.

Shaun Dodds, prosecuting, said there had been no suggestion of speeding and Plummer remembered seeing the cyclist and preparing to pass him.

Mr James said Plummer had no intention to drive again.

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