GUILTY VERDICT: Little Paxton teenager facing jail over death of A1 time trial cyclist

A TEENAGER from Little Paxton is facing jail after being found guilty of mowing down an army major at 70mph during a cycling time trial. Katie Hart, 19, was making the 15 minute drive to her boyfriend s house when she ploughed into Major Gareth Rhys-Evans

A TEENAGER from Little Paxton is facing jail after being found guilty of mowing down an army major at 70mph during a cycling time trial.

Katie Hart, 19, was making the 15-minute drive to her boyfriend's house when she ploughed into Major Gareth Rhys-Evans, 37, as he took part in the 25-mile race.

She had driven only around 2,000ft (640m) on the southbound A1 near Eaton Ford before crashing into the rear of Maj Rhys-Evans on his bike.

The force of the impact threw the married father-of-two over the roof of her purple Ford Ka and into the fast lane of the dual carriageway.

He was pronounced dead at the scene on May 3 last year during the Icknield Road Club event.

Care assistant Hart, from Lakefield Avenue, admitted causing death by careless driving but had denied causing death by dangerous driving at Peterborough Crown Court.

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But today (Wednesday) a jury returned a unanimous verdict finding her guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

Judge Nicholas Coleman deferred sentencing while a pre-sentence report is carried out, but the teenager, who sobbed in the dock, was told she could face between two and five years in jail.

As three female members of the jury also started to cry, judge Coleman told Hart: ''You face a prison sentence. The only question is how long.''

Speaking after the verdict Major Rhys-Evans's widow Emma, 33, said the family had wanted justice for her husband and their two children, Tom, five, and Beth, four.

She said: ''Whatever the plea was, it does not make any difference to me and my children's lives. 'At least justice has been done for Gareth.''

During the three-day trial the court had already heard how Hart admitted during a police interview that she ''must have looked away'' just before she killed Maj Rhys-Evans.

Hart failed to spot him despite narrowly missing another cyclist competing in the race, who said Hart had passed so close to her that ''it took her breath away'' just a minute before the accident.

Maj Rhys-Evans set off from Sandy, at 7.46am and was one of 120 entrants in the 25-mile time trial to Buckden.

The court had heard how ''hysterical'' Hart said: ''I don't know how I can live with myself,'' after she killed him at 8.35am on May 3 last year.

She had planned to pick up her boyfriend from his home in Eaton Ford and then drive to Norfolk for a holiday together.

Hart claimed she could not remember hitting Maj Rhys-Evans and realised she had knocked him over only when she heard a bang and saw her windscreen was smashed.

She had passed her driving test 18 months before the crash, and on the day visibility was clear, the road was dry and weather good.

Her mobile phone was in her handbag and her stereo was switched off.

Maj Rhys-Evans, originally of Llandovery, Dyfed, was based at Rheindahlen military base in Germany and had flown back to Britain to compete in the event.

He commanded 12 Military Intelligence Company, part of 1 Military Intelligence Battalion, and first joined the army, aged 25, in 1996 with the Royal Artillery before transferring to intelligence.

Hart was banned from driving and given bail on condition she remained at her home until she is sentenced at Huntingdon Crown Court in week beginning February 15.