A 49-YEAR-old van driver is facing "almost inevitable jail" after being found guilty of causing the death of an international triathlete and mum-of-two who was hit while cycling in a club time-trial near Raglan.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that GB star Rebecca Comins, 52, was “thrown into the air” when struck by a Vauxhall Movano van driven by Vasile Barbu from Abergavenny on the A40 on Thursday June 2, 2022.

The Monmouth Triathlon Club member, who was cycling in an evening race organised by Monmouthshire Wheelers died from “blunt chest injuries” after her son – who was also racing – came across the tragic scene.

Rebecca Comins
Rebecca Comins (Pic from Newport Phoenix CC/ Facebook)

Her family described her as "incredibly kind and an inspiration to so many" after Barbu, 49, was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving.

The defendant, who was running the Old Pandy Inn last year, denied the charge, but couldn't explain how the crash happened around 7.20pm, telling police he moved to pass but then heard "a knock".

Prosecutor James Wilson told the court: "Rebecca Comins was there to be seen. Visibility was good, she was cycling with a bright rear light so was clearly obvious...

"Her presence on that road was not unexpected. Barbu would have seen the road signs for the cycling event taking place and would have passed other similar cyclists before he reached Mrs Comins.

"She was cycling in a proper manner and correctly positioned... She was on a long, straight stretch of road with plenty of time for him to see her.

"Further he had space in the outside lane to move into and safely manoeuvre around her and to avoid colliding. He instead directly hit Mrs Comins from behind."

A motorist said he had moved into the centre lane to avoid the cyclists, but saw Barbu's van in his mirror stay in the same lane and drive into Mrs Comins, catapulting her off her bike to land beside a hedge.

Another cyclist said he had been “buzzed” by Barbu's van as it went past.

Banning Barbu, of Old Hereford Road, Abergavenny, from driving until sentencing, Judge Shomon Khan bailed him to July 5, and warned: “Prison is almost inevitable."

Mrs Comins, who lived in Caldicot and was known as Beckie, was the Vintage Veteran Champion of the Welsh Triathlon Super Series.

She was a multiple Ironman Wales finisher and also represented the GB Age Group Team at the European Championships in Tartu 2018, as well as at the World Championships in Lausanne in 2019.

Locally, she also represented Chepstow Harriers and Caldicot RC, helped organise the Monmouth Aquathlon, and was her home town's rugby club 1st XV first aider and masseur.

A family statement after the court case said: “Beckie was a wonderful wife to Stephen and mum to George and Millie who will be dearly missed.

Rebecca Comins
Rebecca, wearing orange top, with members of Monmouth Triathlon Club (Pic from Monmouth Triathlon Club)

“Beckie was incredibly kind and an inspiration to so many. Her impact on the lives of people throughout the local and sporting community has become especially evident by the abundance of tributes and memories shared since her death.

“She loved her family, friends and sport and was always the first person to offer help and advice.

“We are so proud of what she achieved in her life."