A DRIVER who ploughed into the back of a cyclist before fleeing and leaving him dying in the road has walked free from court.

Kevin Bratt’s family was told by a judge that he was bound by government guidelines which stated that jail was not appropriate for the case.

Julian Wild, 42, was yesterday given a community order with a three-month curfew and three years of Probation Service supervision.

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Wild, from Hartlepool, admitted causing Mr Bratt’s death by careless driving as he was due to stand trial at Teesside Crown Court.

The court heard that the accident happened in Dalton Back Lane – a country road on the outskirts of Hartlepool – on July 11, last year.

Christopher Attwooll, prosecuting, said Mr Bratt was certified dead at the scene by a doctor from the North East Air Ambulance.

Mr Attwooll said it was still uncertain how the collision happened, or whether the victim was riding or pushing his mountain bike.

The court was told that Wild left the scene – not far from his home – but returned a short time later where passers-by had stopped.

One person who stopped moments after the accident, found Mr Bratt unconscious in the road and called the emergency services.

Paul Cleasby, mitigating, said: “He wishes to make it as clear as he possibly can that he is desperately sorry for being the cause of this accident.

He shoulders the burden of responsibility and it will live with him for the rest of his life... he cannot forget that afternoon.”

Mr Cleasby said Wild was clearly shocked by the accident, but showed courage to return to the scene and help the police.

Judge Peter Fox told Wild: “At least you had the guts to come back and face the music.

That makes a huge difference.

“You knew what you had done and drove off out of sight. If you had not come back, I would have sent you to prison.”

Wild, of The Laurels, Dalton Piercy, will be on a curfew between 7pm and 7am. He was also banned from the roads for three years.

Judge Fox referred to a victim impact statement from Mr Bratt’s widow, Lynne, and son Craig, 27, which told of their suffering.

He told Wild: “You should appreciate that pain she and her family not only have suffered, not only continue to suffer, but will for the rest of their lives suffer as a result of your lack of care and attention.

“So little is there that the criminal justice system can do, the most effective thing is to bring these proceedings to an earlier rather than later close.

“This case falls into the lowest bracket of seriousness which the Sentencing Guidelines Council has determined.

My powers, therefore, are constrained by statute.”