A driver who ran into and killed a horse and its rider has been given an eight-month suspended jail sentence and three-year driving ban.

Hugh Boyle, 52, of Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, admitted causing death by careless driving.

He claimed to have been blinded by bright sunlight and not seen the riders.

Jane Mitchinson, 63, and a friend were thrown from their horses when Boyle’s van struck them in Pilgrims Hatch, Essex, on 16 January 2011.

Ms Mitchinson, of Brentwood, died instantly and both horses were put down, Basildon Crown Court heard yesterday (2 February).

The second rider escaped injury.

Boyle also received a 300-hour community service order.

Speaking after the case, Inspector Keith Whiting of Essex Police said: “This case shows drivers must always have the highest level of concentration.

“The consequences of not taking care are massive.”