A LORRY driver has been spared jail after admitting causing the death of an elderly cyclist.

Vera Chaplin, 89, was killed when she was hit by a Silverton Aggregates lorry driven by Tony Smith.

Smith, who in a previous court appearance admitted causing death by dangerous driving, was yesterday sentenced to a 100-hour community order and disqualified from driving for a year.

Smith, 46, of Bemerton Gardens, Kirby Cross, also had his licence endorsed and was ordered to pay £85 costs.

Colchester Magistrates’ Court heard on the morning of August 9 last year, Ms Chaplin was approaching a mini-roundabout as she cycled along Frinton Road, in Kirby Cross.

Smith did not see Ms Chaplin from the cab of the Scania LGV until it was too late to avoid her.

Nicola Leppard, prosecuting, said: “The truck hit the rear of the bicycle. It caused Ms Chaplin to fall off her bike. Sadly, she died as a result of the injuries she sustained in this very sad accident.”

A statement was read to the court, written by Ms Chaplin’s brother Sam, who said his life had changed “dramatically” since her death. It said: “She was, to some extent, my carer. At age 92, I am not able to get out and about – I am not in good health.”

District Judge David Cooper described the accident as “a tragic end to a long life,” adding Smith had expressed “total and absolute remorse” for what happened.

Rowan Jenkins, mitigating, said Smith, a retained firefighter, was of “exceptional character”.

After the hearing, Ms Chaplain’s niece Jenny Osbourne said: “The family would like to thank everyone who has supported us during this tragic time.

“Vera was a remarkable woman whose independence and energy knew no limits. She enjoyed life and to have died in such circumstances was truly unjust.”

Steve Brewer, from the Stanway road policing unit, added: “This was a tragic case. Vera Chaplin was a regular cyclist in the Kirby and Frinton area.

“The collision itself was relatively minor, but the injuries sustained by Ms Chaplin sadly led to her death.

“This crash highlights the need for drivers of all vehicles to take extra care at junctions. Cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians can sometimes be difficult to see, particularly when a driver is looking for something more visible, such as a car or larger vehicle.”