A LORRY driver who killed a cyclist on a busy dual-carriageway has been warned to brace himself for a prison sentence.

Joseph Reed, 50, from Crook, County Durham, admitted responsibility for the death of Sean Ruff, from South Tyneside.

Reed appeared at Teesside Crown Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to a charge of causing death by careless driving.

He was given bail until his next hearing next month, after the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.

Judge Howard Crowson told him: "Your guilty plea is at an early stage, and you will be given credit for that.

"It means that there will not need to be a trial, and that's important for everybody.

"You will know that what you have admitted is a serious matter, which often merits a prison sentence."

Mr Ruff, 61, from Cleadon, was killed when the bike he was riding was hit from behind by Argos delivery driver Mr Reed.

The accident happened on the A66 at Elton, near Stockton, at about 6.20pm on May 21.

Mr Ruff, a father-of-four, was pronounced dead at the scene. Members of his family were in court for today's (Friday, January 17) hearing.

Reed, 50, of Railway Terrace, Willington, was also supported by relatives in the packed public gallery.

Christopher Dorman O’Gowan, defending, said Reed indicated he would plead guilty after they examined the evidence.

He told Judge Crowson: "It was the earliest possible moment in these sort of cases."

At an earlier hearing, Mr Dorman O'Gowan said he would need to get an accident expert’s report before advising Reed about his plea.

Judge Crowson said at the time: “I am aware that both parties will probably want this matter resolved as soon as is just.

“But I do think in this type of case it is important for the defence to have its own report in addition to the prosecution one.

“It may be there is agreement between the two experts, that will not be known until the second report is done.”

Reed - who was given an interim driving ban by the judge - will return to court to be sentenced on February 18.

The judge told his barrister: "You will have advised him that the consequences in these sorts of cases is usually a prison sentence."