An elderly motorist who drove without a licence all his life and killed his partner by hitting a tree has narrowly avoided prison.
Derek Knight, 68, lost control of his car and veered sharply off the road as he overtook a cyclist.
He collided head-on with a tree and his partner of 20 years Wendy Buttery, 76, suffered severe chest injuries and did at the scene on the A39 in Trispen, Cornwall.
Knight said he had been driving “all his life” in 42 different countries but there was no evidence of any licence records, a court heard.
Knight, of St Ewe, Cornwall, had been found guilty of causing death by carless driving at Truro Crown Court.
Judge Graham Cottle sentenced him to nine months in prison, suspended for two years.
At the time of the crash, Mr Knight paid tribute to Ms Buttery as a “kind and caring soulmate”.
He said: “I blame myself because I was driving. I’m totally lost without her. Wendy was a very kind person who helped and worked for those who were less fortunate.
“I’ve lost a great partner and a very good friend. Everywhere she went she’d light up the room; she made me smile.”
The accident happened as Knight drove in his Peugeot 307 at around 12.15pm on June 4 last year.
Knight had denied the charge and claimed a piece of trim fell from under the dashboard of his car, obstructing the pedals.
But a forensic examination found nothing would have affected the controls and the car was in “serviceable condition”.
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