A VAN driver has been cleared of driving without due care and attention after a collision which left pub owners Kevin and Caroline Macdivitt with horrific injuries outside the Sally Pussey Inn over a year ago.

Leigh Ballard had been driving a Renault van along the A3102 behind the couple, who had been cycling to Royal Wootton Bassett to drop off money collected at the pub for charity.

Mr Ballard collided with both cyclists at around 1pm on September 10 last year, and his first words on seeing the impact were ‘Oh my God, I’ve killed them'.

Chippenham magistrates yesterday heard evidence from witnesses who had seen Mr Ballard driving behind the couple on the day in question.

Mr and Mrs Macdivitt said it was the first time they had cycled the route, and the court heard they had not been wearing helmets.

Mr Ballard asserted one of the cyclists had unexpectedly veered into his path, while they maintained they had kept an even keel, one behind the other.

Mr Macdivitt had suffered a fractured vertebrae and collarbone and a dislocated shoulder, while his wife, cycling behind him, took the worst of the impact.

“I have got a very slight recollection of some lights of a car flashing behind me,” she told the court.

"The next thing I knew was waking up in the ambulance.”

She had sustained fractured vertebrae, jaw bone and eye socket, after being found in the road with her bicycle wrapped around her.

Deborah Scott had been driving behind Ballard as they passed the Sally Pussey Inn.

“There was a white van in front of me, and it was quite close to the verge,” she said. “It all happened so fast. All of a sudden something came from above the van and came towards me, which was obviously a cyclist. I was trying to stop because I didn’t want to run over the person being thrown into my path.

“They had almost been launched over the van. I stopped and went straight over, and the bike was wrapped around her.

“The van had stopped a little further along. The driver got out and was mortified. He said ‘Oh my God, I’ve killed them’. That’s all I heard him say. He was in shock and very scared.

“It is quite a wide piece of road there, because there is extra room for people to turn right into the pub. I never saw the cyclist until they came over the van. In a normal case when someone moves over to overtake, I would have seen the cyclists.”

Bruce Batt, travelling in the opposite direction, said he had seen the van strike the first cyclist before continuing into the second.

“The cyclists were riding single file and quite close to the verge,” he said.

“I didn’t see the van deviate from its position. I saw no evidence of it swerving. The van had collided with the first cyclist, before continuing along the road until it collided with the second cyclist.”

But Charley Pattison, defending Ballard, of Box Bush Lodge, Brinkworth, said the couple had passed out of his field of vision at the time of the collision, and nobody had actually seen what caused the crash.

Statements from police investigators showed the brakes, steering and suspension on Ballard’s van were all fully operational at the time of impact.

In interview, he admitted he was the driver of the van, but said one of the cyclists had turned into his path unexpectedly.

“He stated he had stopped at a lay-by just prior to the collision for a comfort break and to respond to text messages,” said Marianna Lo Conte, prosecuting.

“As he approached the scene of the collision he had looked down at his speedometer where he thought there were speed cameras. During the routine journey he sent and received several text messages. Some had been using the hands free set, and others using his hands and eyes.”

The bench cleared Mr Ballard of driving without due care and attention.