A DRIVER whose car struck a young Barry mum as she walked home from work has been found not guilty of causing her death by dangerous driving.

Ashleigh Stephen Ryan, aged 26, was also unanimously cleared of causing the death of Tara Mackie by careless driving, after a four day trial at Cardiff Crown Court.

Mr Ryan had denied both charges, and jurors took just over an hour to reach their verdict last Thursday (December 20).

Mum-of-one Miss Mackie, a care worker, had completed a nightshift at Hazelhurst care home in Penarth on the morning of Sunday, October 16, 2011. She was walking home to Barry along Cardiff Road in Dinas Powys, when she was hit by a car driven by Mr Ryan.

She was airlifted to the University Hospital of Wales, but died of her injuries.

The court heard that Mr Ryan, a community care worker, was driving from Dinas Powys to Llantwit Major to pick up an autistic service user and take him to a football tournament in Newport, when the accident occurred.

Prosecutors alleged he had been driving at an inappropriate speed for the bend, although they accepted it was within the national speed limit, and had been driving on the wrong side of the road - which he denied.

He said an untraced vehicle overtaking a cyclist had forced him to take the evasive action that caused him to lose control of his Ford Fiesta, which hit Miss Mackie – who was walking along the grass verge - before colliding with a vehicle coming from the opposite direction.

Mr Ryan, traumatised at the scene, told a witness: "I am the most unlucky person ever. I went to see a psychic last year who told me I would be wearing a uniform. It’s a prison uniform. I will be going to prison for this."

Giving evidence on day three of the trial (December 19), dad-of-one Mr Ryan said: "I know I was doing less than the national speed limit.

"I wasn't doing anything I shouldn't have been doing.

"I found out afterwards that I knew the girl. She was a friend of mine.

"Why would I want to make anything up?"

Asked by prosecutor Ieuan Bennett why he had not mentioned the cyclist and car at the scene, he said: "In that situation my only priority was the wellbeing of that young lady and nothing else."

Summing up in defence of Mr Ryan, Alex Stein said: "There's no winner or loser in cases like this, whatever the verdict.

"Mr Ryan is going to have to live with the memory of that day for the rest of his life; and nothing can compensate the family for the loss that they have suffered."