A DRIVER who failed to stop after a crash that left a cyclist dead smiled as he walked free from a court.

Michael O’Shea, of Roman Way, Andover, made obscene gestures to reporters as he left Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court last week.

The 28-year-old was given a five month suspended prison sentence by magistrates after pleading guilty to failing to stop and failing to report a collision in Andover on March 6.

Cyclist Brian Tozer was struck just before 1am on the A343 Redon Way, near the Folly Roundabout.

Mr Tozer, 46, suffered ‘extensive and unsurvivable’ injuries in the crash and died at Southampton General Hospital.

O’Shea, who was driving a Mazda 3 towards his girlfriend’s home, fled the scene.

He was arrested by police later that day following tip-offs in response to media coverage.

Prosecutor Fiona McMurray told magistrates at a hearing last Tuesday that O’Shea had told police he had not ‘drunk or smoked’ before driving and was not distracted.

He also claimed to be driving between 15mph and 20mph.

Miss McMurray read out a victim impact statement on behalf of Mr Tozer’s mother Patricia.

She said: “Brian was my baby, my youngest son.

“He was a loving, caring and thoughtful son.

“His death has caused great pain and upset to myself and to the whole family.”

Of O’Shea, she said: “He left Brian in the road without stopping.

"Those vital minutes could have made the difference.

“He didn’t even hand himself into the police after the appeal.”

Defending, Natalie Cheeseman said he was ‘truly sorry’ for what he did and that the incident would ‘stay with him forever’.

She said: “He didn’t know what to do and essentially fled.

“He stopped and started walking back towards the scene of the incident and [Mr Tozer] was being attended to and left.

“He found himself in an extremely difficult situation and he has not managed it perfectly.

“Who is to know what anyone would do in that situation until they are in it?”

She added: “He is finding it very difficult to come to terms with.

"It is something he has to live with and something he has great difficulty in dealing with.”

Mrs Cheeseman, who claimed O’Shea suffered from undiagnosed learning difficulties, pleaded with magistrates not to pass down a custodial sentence for fear he may lose his job .

Although his role was not disclosed during the hearing, Mrs Cheeseman said O’Shea had held the position since leaving school 12 years ago, without qualifications.

After hearing the mitigation, the three sitting magistrates discussed O’Shea’s sentence during a ten-minute meeting, calling in their legal advisor halfway through.

Chairman of the bench, Linda Smith JP, then handed O’Shea a five-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, much to the relief of O’Shea’s tearful mother.

O’Shea was also banned from driving for 12 months , ordered to do 250 hours’ community service and pay court costs and a victim surcharge totalling £165.