A FORMER Hampshire man died in a road smash a year after moving to Australia.

Robert Townend, pictured, suffered horrific injuries when he was thrown from his bicycle after being struck by a pick-up on an unlit country road in New South Wales.

His mum and dad paid tribute to their only son, who they described as a “gentleman” who had touched many lives.

His mum, Mary, of Highmount Close, Winchester, told the Daily Echo: “We had a lot of letters from friends. They said he was a gentleman. “A lot [of friends] said how much he had touched their lives. I think he had a good life. He did good for other people.”

His dad Ian, a visiting professor at Southamp-ton University, said: “He was quite good at giving advice. People wrote to tell us he changed the way they looked at life.”

Robert, who studied Classics at St Andrew’s in Scotland.

At the inquest, which was held in Southampton, a coroner ruled the driver – who was overtaking another vehicle in the dark at the time – was not to blame for the tragedy.

Robert, 27, was working as a foreman in a horse-racing stables on the evening of August 12 last year.

The inquest heard how he was leaving his workplace on a blue Dunlop Armour bike when he was struck by the Toyota Hilux, driven by David McPhee.

Hampshire coroner Grahame Short read a statement by Jasmine Petrou, who witnessed the pick-up overtaking her on the single-lane road at around 6pm. She recalled it manoeuvring into the incoming lane before hearing a loud bang which caused her to pull over immediately. Robert was pronounced dead at the scene. Mr McPhee was arrested but released after blood tests revealed he was not under the influence of alcohol. Neither was he speeding. He told police he simply did not see the cyclist, whose bike was fitted with reflectors but had no lights.

The inquest heard how the bike – used regularly by employees – had a bald rear tyre, while the front had minimal tread. Robert was riding without a helmet and wearing dark clothing.

Recording an accidental death verdict, Mr Short dismissed suggestions the cyclist was not paying attention: “It’s more likely he was dazzled by the lights of the car driving towards him and unaware of the vehicle as it pulled out and didn’t have time to take evasive action.”