FORMER Wey Valley pupil Mark Gerrish was killed on his way to buy an engagement ring when a driver botched an attempt to overtake him, an inquest has been told.

Trainee nurse Mark Gerrish, 33, suffered massive brain, spine and lung injuries when he was thrown from his bicycle on February 25 this year.

Mr Gerrish was from Weymouth originally but was living in Burnham Road, Twerton, near Bath.

Avon Coroner's Court was told that Mr Gerrish was cycling along Combe Park, just outside the Royal United Hospital in Bath, at 2.30pm when he was hit from behind by a white Vauxhall Vectra.

He was thrown 4.5 metres into the air, landing in the road at the junction to the hospital's accident and emergency department entrance.

He suffered a skull fracture, serious brain and spine injuries, a torn lung and broken bones.

Hospital staff quickly came to his aid but his injuries were too severe and he died after surgery later that afternoon.

Just three days earlier he had proposed to his girlfriend.

Mr Gerrish was originally from Weymouth and worked at the Palace Cinema in Bridport when he was younger.

He moved to Bath to study English literature and later worked as a fitness instructor, but decided to take up nursing after his mother Maureen died from cancer in 2003.

Street sweeper Barry Bedwell, of Uphill Drive, Larkhall, told the inquest that he had seen the accident while a passenger in a council van being driven by one his colleagues in the opposite direction to the bike and car.

He saw the driver of the Vectra - subsequently identified as Darren Sexton - apparently pull out to overtake but then pull in again at the last minute and hit Mr Gerrish from behind.

Mr Bedwell and his colleague immediately stopped to help Mr Gerrish.

Sexton initially drove off but returned a few minutes later to ask if Mr Gerrish was all right.

Mr Bedwell said he told him No, can't you see the blood pouring out of his nose?' but Mr Sexton drove away again anyway.

Sexton is currently unemployed and living at Rose Hill, Larkhall. At the time of his conviction, his stated address was High Street, Weston.

He was later jailed for four months and banned from driving for 18 months after pleading guilty to driving without due care and attention, failing to stop and failing to report an accident.

A police accident investigator told the inquest that the collision could have been avoided if Sexton had waited a couple of seconds until the van had passed before overtaking, or by braking sharply after pulling back in.

He said the car was travelling at an estimated 33mph when it hit.

Mr Gerrish is thought to have been riding his bicycle safely, but was not wearing a helmet.

After initially saying he was 'sorry about the unfortunate accident' and refusing to answer questions on advice from his solicitor, Sexton claimed he had not tried to overtake and blamed Mr Gerrish for the collision.

Recording a verdict of death by misadventure, deputy assistant Avon coroner Tony Woodburn said he believed Sexton had attempted to overtake but changed his mind at the last minute - knocking Mr Gerrish off his bike and causing the injuries which killed him - but that this should not be taken to indicate any sort of liability on anybody's part.

Mr Gerrish's father, the Rev David Gerrish, is a former rector of All Saints' and St Andrew's on Portland. His son was on his way to meet his girlfriend Catarina, also a nurse, when he was hit by the car.

The Rev Gerrish, who has another son, London-based barrister Simon, was on Portland for seven years before he took up a ministry in France. He took early retirement and returned to Weymouth, where he still has a flat.