A VAN driver accused of causing the death of a Beaconsfield cyclist broke down in tears in the witness box yesterday.

Paul Luker was overcome with emotion as he tried to describe the aftermath of the crash in March last year. The 51-year-old said he had stopped and run back to the cyclist, who was lying face down with blood around his head.

Luker, who denies causing death by careless driving, said he did not see Group Captain Tom Barrett, of Amersham Road, Beaconsfield, before crashing into the back of his bike on the A40 Western Avenue, near RAF Northolt.

The 44-year-old RAF man, who was the station commander at Northolt, died of multiple injuries after “flying through the air” following the collision, Harrow Crown Court heard.

Luker, of Beaconsfield Road, Farnham Royal, said he would not have expected a cyclist to be on the three-lane carriageway. The road is subject to the national speed limit and was described in court as ‘like a motorway’.

Though there is a cycle lane next to the road, separated by a grass verge, Luker accepted that cycling is permitted on the main carriageway.

He told police interviewers: “I lay in bed thinking night after night is there anything I did see or didn’t see. I weren’t even looking for a cyclist...I thought there’s no way there would be a cyclist on the road when there’s a cycle lane.”

He said the sun was very low at the time of the incident, which happened just after 5pm on March 10 last year. This made it difficult to see, despite having worn a cap and putting his visor down, he told jurors.

Luker, who collects and delivers laundry in his transit van, added: “I’ll go over it till the day I die. I just don’t understand why I didn’t see Mr Barrett. The sun was as bad as I’ve ever known it.”

He accepted he “ought” to have seen Group Captain Barrett, who was wearing dark clothing, but denied suggestions that he was not paying attention.

He said he has driven along that stretch of road many times since the incident and never seen a cyclist.

The court heard Luker has been driving since 1984 and has a clean record, aside from two minor driving offences in 2006.

Group Captain Barrett was about half a metre from kerb on the inside lane of the westbound carriageway, where he was “perfectly entitled” to be, the court heard.

Ken Aylett, defending, said Luker was “driving carefully” at about 50mph, slower than most other vehicles on the road.

He pointed out the cyclist was wearing dark clothing, saying a camouflage effect can occur against changing backgrounds. He also reiterated the evidence of a collision investigator, who said the “relatively low speed of the cyclist clearly presented a dangerous environment for the cyclist”.

But prosecutor Adina Ezekiel said Luker had the responsibility to be aware of other road users, adding: “Quite frankly the prosecution say had he been paying attention he would have seen him [the cyclist].”

The court has heard Group Captain Barrett, a dad-of-two, used his journey home as training to compete in triathlons.

The trial continues. The jury is expected to be sent out today.