A DRIVER who “accidentally” killed his close friend and work colleague after a prank tragically went wrong has been spared jail.

Gareth Robbins, 33, and cyclist Paul Heenan were enjoying “playful banter” after they had just finished their shift at the Yuasa battery factory in Ebbw Vale.

The pair had been joking about the father-of-two cycling into work for the first time to keep fit because gyms had been closed because of Covid.

The victim had been slowing down traffic down behind him after riding along on the Rassau Industrial Estate on Friday, April 11, 2020.

South Wales Argus:

Paul Heenan, 40, from Abertysswg, Caerphilly, with his family

Cardiff Crown Court heard how Robbins had later driven too close to the 40-year-old Mr Heenan and had shouted at him through the window of his car.

The defendant clipped the handlebars of the victim’s mountain bike and he lost control and crashed.

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Mr Heenan, from Abertysswg, Caerphilly, died the next day after suffering catastrophic injuries.

Robbins, of Clos Gwaith Dur, Ebbw Vale, pleaded guilty to causing his death by careless driving.

He was cleared of the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving by a jury following a trial.

Mr Heenan’s partner Rebecca Jones told the court in an emotional victim impact statement: “We loved each other’s company and in 22 years we never spent a day apart.

“He’s was the most amazing person and his whole world revolved around our children.”

Clare Wilks, mitigating, said her client, a man with no previous convictions, was “very sorry for his actions” and wanted to apologise to his victim’s family.

She added: "If he could turn the clock back, he would.

"He must know live with his actions.”

Judge Christopher Vosper QC said: “This is a particularly sad case.”

Because of the impact sending him into custody would have on Robbins’ family, he jailed him for 18 weeks, but suspended the sentence for 12 months.

The defendant must complete a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and complete 100 hours of unpaid work.

Robbins was banned from driving for 12 months.