A holidaymaker has been given a suspended jail sentence for knocking down and seriously injuring an 83-year-old cyclist after getting distracted while overtaking a sheep on a rural road near the Elan Valley.

The cyclist remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital with several serious injuries after being hit from behind by a motorbike ridden by German national Toni Holtzbach along the Aberystwyth mountain road on Sunday (August 27).

Holtzbach, aged 41, of no fixed abode, was given a 26-week custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, and banned from driving in the UK for 12 months after he admitted causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving without due care and attention before Welshpool magistrates on Tuesday (August 29).

Chair of the magistrates' bench Stephen Pembroke said the incident was "tragic" for everyone involved before wishing the victim a fast recovery.


Holtzbach, a civilian in the German Army, told police that he had seen the cyclist before a sheep came onto the straight section of the road with open fields on either side. He rode around the sheep at around 30 to 40mph but after doing so he was too close to the cyclist to brake sufficiently.

Prosecutor Molly Rumsey said: "He was preoccupied with avoiding the sheep when he noticed the cyclist by which time it was too late to avoid him. He hit the back of the bike causing both of them to fall. The victim is 83 and the collision has resulted in serious injuries."

Ms Rumsey added that Holtzbach, who was visibly upset in court, carried out an "unsafe manoeuvrer and engaged in a brief but avoidable distraction".

Paul Inns, mitigating, told the court that the German national, who had been remanded in custody, was visiting the UK on holiday touring around on his motorbike since August 24 and was leaving the country on Thursday (August 31).

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Mr Inns said: "He wasn’t subject to any time limits or the like and prior to the collision he had been driving carefully and attentively."

Mr Inns said he had been driving at an appropriate speed, and slowed as he passed the sheep.

"Having passed the sheep, he checked his rear mirror to check the location of the sheep," he added. "When he next looked up, he saw the cyclist and braked but he was not able to brake sufficiently to avoid a collision.

"As he told the police in his interview, he failed to assess the cyclist’s speed accurately who perhaps, unsurprisingly, given his age and the fact he was on an incline going uphill was travelling very, very slowly.

"He did his best to apply first aid to the gentleman and thankfully a nurse was on the scene very quickly.

"It goes without saying that the defendant is extremely sorry and genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of the gentleman. The defendant’s intention is to sell the motorbike and to donate the proceeds to the Red Cross. He does not intend to ride a motorbike again."

Summing up, Mr Inns added: "In my respectful submission this case does not warrant an immediate custodial sentence for the following reasons: his guilty plea, his age and lack of previous convictions, the circumstances in which the accident occurred and his genuine remorse."

Magistrates suspended Holtzbach's custodial sentence, disqualified him from driving in the UK for 12 months, and ordered him to pay a £154 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.