A MAN accused of dangerous driving which resulted in the death of a cyclist may have been “eating a sandwich” at the time of the collision, a court heard yesterday.

Paul Brown, of Oxford Road, Eynsham, sobbed in the dock when a witness described the aftermath of the crash, which happened in Eaton Road, near Appleton, on May 24 last year.

The 29-year-old has admitted causing death by careless driving but denies the more serious charge of dangerous driving.

Oxford Crown Court heard that the victim, father-of two Joe Wilkins, 39, of Evans Road, Eynsham, was cycling a favoured circular local bike route from Appleton to Stanton Harcourt when the collision occurred.

Matthew Corrie, prosecuting, said: “Was he distracted by a mobile phone or his radio? We believe that he was eating a sandwich – was it that which caused the accident or was it simply gross inattention?

“He should have seen him, and Mr Wilkins was on the road to be seen.”

Despite the attempts of passers-by and an off-duty nurse, Mr Wilkins, a retained firefighter at Eynsham fire station who also worked for Siemens Magnet Technology at its factory on the edge of the village, died at the scene.

His cycling partner Philip Nobes was ahead of Mr Wilkins, and turned back near Appleton when he noticed his childhood friend was missing.

Mr Nobes said: “My first thought was “he’s probably in the pub”. I saw a van parked on the side and a bit of activity. Joe is a fireman, so I thought he may have stopped to help someone. Then I saw Joe’s bike in a hedge so I started running towards the scene.”

A statement was read to the court by NHS manager Katherine Riddle, who was a passenger in a car with her husband Mark and their child. It said: “We saw a car with the hazard lights on, and a man was walking around concerned so we stopped. I saw some items in the road and realised one was a water bottle.

“He said “I think we’ve hit a cyclist, we can’t find him.”

“So we started looking and found the cyclist lying in a grass verge. It was full of bristles. He was lying on his back but his head was turned to the side, it looked like he was asleep. My immediate impression was that he was dead. He was not breathing and there was no pulse.

“I couldn’t see any helmet.”

The court heard Mr Wilkins had been wearing a helmet, but it, and one of his shoes, had been knocked off by the force of the collision.

Mrs Riddle’s statement said: “Someone dialled 999 and we tried to save him, but I could feel no pulse. We started CPR but his body was cold, and when you picked him up his eyes rolled back, and there was no life in him.”

The witnesses said paramedics arrived and gave CPR but stopped after a short period of time.

The trial continues.