A FAMILY’S only son would still be alive if the driver who ran him down had not been using a satellite navigation system, a judge warned.

District Judge Roger Elsey told motorist Steven James Conlan that he had paid too much attention to his sat nav and not sufficient to the road ahead when he hit cyclist Grahame McGregor on a crossroads on Easter Monday this year.

Sentencing Conlan yesterday (Tuesday, August 27), he said: “I don’t believe the accident would have occurred if the sat nav had been switched off.”

Conlan had been relying on the in-car technology to guide him, his wife and their two children during a family day out to High Force, in upper Teesdale, when the sat nav failed to register the A692/A68 junction near Consett, County Durham, at 12.35pm.

Having missed a stop sign westbound on the A692, Conlan drove his Saab 93 straight out into the road, sending Mr McGregor, cycling north on the A68, hurtling across the road onto a footpath.

The 55-year-old cyclist, of Thornton Close, Pelton, near Chester-le-Street, died in hospital five days later.

In a statement read out in court, Mr McGregor’s parents said they had been forced to bury their only son in the prime of his life.

His sister, Linda Williams, said the devastating loss had blown her family apart and called for action to make the junction safer.

Judge Elsey said the stop line was not very visible and drivers on the A692 could get the impression they had precedence.

However, prosecutor Lynne Roberts-Plowman told Peterlee Magistrates' Court that there were several junction signs while Judge Elsey said had Conlan paid sufficient attention to the road he would have seen the stop sign.

Conlan, described by his lawyer Kate Meek as a trustworthy, loving, decent man, a devoted husband and father and a great friend, admitted causing death by careless driving.

The 51-year-old, of Wood Terrace, Gateshead, was at a loss to say how he missed the stop sign and was struggling to cope with the dreadful legacy of the accident, she added.

Judge Elsey told Conlan: “He (Mr McGregor) was a healthy young man in the prime of his life and his death is a devastating blow, a devastating loss to the family and friends that love him.

“No sentence I impose is ever going to make up for the grief they have suffered.”

He accepted Conlan was of good character, had behaved responsibly after the accident and had shown genuine remorse and sentenced him to a 12-month community penalty.

Conlan will have to complete 240 hours of unpaid work, pay a £60 surcharge and £85 court costs and will be banned from driving for two years.