A driver who crashed into two friends and killed them while they were out enjoying a bike ride has been given a suspended jail sentence.

The injuries suffered by Andy Coles, 56, and Damien Natale, 52, when driver Clifford Rennie smashed into them from behind on the A40 in Studley Green were so serious, they died at the scene.

Rennie, 61, of Wantage Road in Wallingford, was today (November 12) given a suspended jail sentence for two counts of causing death by careless driving and banned from the road for five years.

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At just before 6.40pm on June 1 last year, friends Andy and Damien, from Haddenham, were cycling on the A40 in Studley Green, a national speed limit road.

Rennie, who was driving a Volkswagen Golf and travelling in the same direction, collided with them from behind.

After a long police investigation, Rennie was charged with causing their deaths on July 15 this year.

He pleaded guilty to both crimes at High Wycombe Magistrates' Court on October 14, sparing the pair's devastated loved ones from a painful trial.

Today, Rennie was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years. He was also disqualified from driving for five years and will need to take an extended re-test when his disqualification finishes.

READ MORE: Man pleads guilty to causing death of two cyclists in A40 Wycombe smash

Senior Investigating Officer Sergeant Darren Brown of the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, based at Three Mile Cross, said: “This was an absolute tragedy that needn’t have happened.

“Due to the manner of Mr Rennie’s driving on that early summer’s afternoon last year, two men, who were simply out for a cycle ride, did not return home to their loved ones.

“We were able to prove that the careless nature of Mr Rennie’s driving was the causative factor in the deaths of Andy and Damien, and given the evidence put to him, Mr Rennie pleaded guilty to both offences. This, at least, spared the family and friends of Andy and Damien the further ordeal of a trial.

“Whatever the reason for Mr Rennie’s careless driving that evening, it is abundantly clear that neither Andy nor Damien contributed in any way to this incident.

“This tragic case underlines the fact that motorists need to be fully aware of their surroundings and be aware of other, more vulnerable road users, especially when driving within national speed limits.

“I know that no sentence would have served as any solace to Andy and Damien’s family and friends, but I would like to pay tribute to them all. They have showed tremendous resolve and patience while this case was being investigated, and on behalf of Thames Valley Police, I would like to extend my condolences to everyone affected by this tragedy.”