A "COWARDLY" driver who left a cyclist for dead following a hit and run in Ulverston has been jailed for nine and half years today at Preston Crown Court.

John Edward Burns, 30, mowed down local man Jack Talbot when at the wheel of a stolen car on July 26 this year.

Both Cumbria and Greater Manchester Police were mobilised during a four-day manhunt which ultimately saw Burns tracked down to his native Manchester.

Mr Talbot, 24, a paramedic in Ulverston, was just one minute away from his home when he was knocked from his bike in Priory Road by Burns.

Following sentencing Mr Talbot’s solicitor, Rachel Botterill, of law firm Leigh Day, said: "Jack is relieved the criminal proceedings are now over and justice has been done. This was a horrific collision following which he spent 13 days in an induced coma. He is extremely grateful to the medical staff at the Royal Preston Hospital who saved his life and especially to the Great North Air Ambulance Services which attended the scene of the accident."

On the day of the crash, Burns had stolen a black Volkswagen Polo from a female driver at the Truckhaven services on the M6.

Sentencing, Judge Philip Parry called Burns a "coward" and "despicable" for targeting vulnerable women. He added that Burns showed a complete disregard for vulnerable road users.

Superintendent Rob O’Connor of Cumbria police said he was pleased that following an extensive investigation, justice had been served.

He said: "I vowed at the time we would arrest and prosecute the person responsible for the horrific injuries suffered by Mr Talbot. However, we had to be guarded about the amount of information we released to ensure no part of the investigation or future prosecution was jeopardised.

"At the time of the incident, I was aware that the public were frustrated by this. However, we knew from the outset who we were looking for, and were working very closely with Greater Manchester police, as well as deploying officers from Cumbria to Manchester to detain Burns.

"Thankfully, as covered in the media in recent weeks, Mr Talbot is making a good recovery and I wish him all the very best with regards to his ongoing recuperation"

Burns, of Sycamore Road, Manchester, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment for blackmail, two-and-a-half years for a second count of blackmail, and two-and-a-half years for causing serious injury by dangerous driving, to be served consecutively. He was also sentenced to four months in jail for theft and another four months for fraud, to be served concurrently.

He was disqualified from driving for eight years and nine months, and will have to retake his test upon release.