Devon driver's spider scare led to cyclist's death
A driver who was distracted by a spider ended up killing a cyclist and badly injuring another when she took her eyes off the road to throw the creature out.
Simon Evans, 37, from Derby, was on a charity bike ride when he died in the crash on the A30 in Devon in September.
Georgina Mills, of Okehampton, Devon, admitted causing death by dangerous driving at Exeter Crown Court.
The 23-year-old was given a two-year driving ban, a two-year community order and sentenced to 200 hours unpaid work.
The court was told that Mills was driving to work when the crash happened at Tedburn St Mary as a result of a spider dropping in front of her.
Prosecutor Richard Crabb said: "She grabbed it, opened the window and chucked it out of the car."
Mr Crabb said Mills only realised she had struck the cyclist when she had looked back at the road.
He added: "It is estimated that she took her eyes off the road for two seconds."
Mills, a civil engineer, told police at the scene that she was not a dangerous driver and said it had been a 'lapse of concentration'.
Simon Evans, an IT manager, was on the second day of a cycle ride from Land's End to Derby when the crash happened.
The court was told he had been riding behind his brother-in-law, Keith Richards, and that he had been inside the rumble strip - not on the main road - when he was hit.
He was pronounced dead at hospital an hour later. Mr Richards, 37, from Reading, suffered leg injuries in the crash.
Defence barrister Rupert Taylor said that apart from the death and injury caused, there were no other aggravating features like speed, racing or drink.
He said that Mills was never going to drive again and described her as a "decent, productive, hard-working member of the community".
The court was told that Mills had a clean driving record, no previous convictions and excellent prospects.
On sentencing her, Judge Graham Cottle said: "There is no basis for disbelieving your account that you took your eyes temporarily off the road to deal with a creature.
"You have never sought to blame any external factors in this case."
Speaking after the sentence Keith Richards said: "The sentence passed can in no way repair the sense of loss that we feel and continue to feel each day."