A PROFESSIONAL lorry driver from Falmouth who caused the death of an "inspirational" teenager by careless driving has been given a suspended sentence.
Matthew Collins, aged 31, of Watersmead Park, Budock Water, was driving his car between Bissoe and Chacewater on November 13, 2011, when it crossed into the opposite carriageway and collided with a 125cc motorbike ridden by fencer Jamie Ackerman, 17, who died at the scene.
Collins, who works for Cornish Linen Services, was found guilty of causing Mr Ackerman's death through carelessness by a jury on June 7 following a trial at Truro Crown Court.
When he appeared before the court again on Thursday for sentencing, Judge John Neligan told Collins: "The cause of the collision and the young man's death was not, as you still seem to think, that he had inadequate headlights but due to the fact that you were concentrating more on overtaking the car in front, which you judged to be driving too slowly.
"It is a fact, and a mitigating factor, that after the collision you behaved impeccably.
"You were clearly devastated by what happened and you did your best to summon help."
The court had previously been told that Lydia Mill had been driving her car from Falmouth to her farm at Twelveheads when a Peugeot 207 came up behind her. It was driven by Collins, whose girlfriend was in the front seat.
Phillip Lee, for the prosecution, said Mrs Mill felt intimidated and was dazzled by Collins' headlights; she then came to a crossroads and indicated to turn left.
Mr Lee told the jury: "As she began to turn, Mr Collins pulled out into the oncoming lane and accelerated past her, revving his engine as he did so. As she completed her turn into the junction, she heard a loud explosion. Mr Collins had collided head-on with a 125cc motorcycle ridden by Jamie Ackerman."
The court heard Mr Ackerman sustained head and chest injuries which were not survivable, and was pronounced dead at 5.49pm.
After his death, tributes poured in to the keen sportsman, who lived near Bissoe and was said to be a potential future Olympian.
He held the under-19 South West epée championship and had competed across Europe.
A former Cusgarne and Richard Lander School pupil, he was studying horticulture at Duchy College. His family said in a statement: "Jamie had a huge smile for everybody, enjoyed every moment of his life to the full and without a doubt was an inspiration to all who knew him."
Neil Lewin, for the defence, said Collins had felt guilt and was fully aware of the consequences of his actions.
"The greatest punishment that can be done as far as Matthew Collins is concerned has already been done inside his own head," he said.
Collins was sentenced to 12 months in jail, suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 80 hours' community service and to pay £750 towards the prosecution's costs, and was banned from driving for two years.