A DRIVER had a 'split second' to react before his car hit and killed a biker near Burford, an inquest heard.

Ilie Cenusa's Volkswagen Passat crashed into the motorbike of Chipping Norton resident James McDonald on the A424 on December 11 last year.

Mr McDonald, 41, died from his injuries at the scene, despite the efforts of passers-by and air ambulance staff.

In a statement read out at Oxford Coroner's Court yesterday, Mr Cenusa said he was approaching the junction leading to Taynton at 4.24pm when the bike 'suddenly' came from his right.

The court was told how he 'couldn't avoid' the vehicle before impact and stopped to help, even lifting the visor of the victim's helmet.

Mr McDonald, originally from Carlisle, had been “very happy” living in Chipping Norton and was “popular” and “good with people”, the court heard.

The biker is believed to have been on the way to visit his fiancee, Sally Janice Sollis, who he was due to marry this November.

Mr McDonald, who managed the Shell garage in Chipping Norton, was approaching the A424 from the direction of Shipton-under-Wychwood on his Lex Moto motorcycle.

Meanwhile, Mr Cenusa and a passenger were travelling along the A-road towards Stow on their way to Manchester to buy a car.

The court heard how the road, which is 'bendy with many dips and hills', was 'dark but not pitch black'.

Oxfordshire Coroner Darren Salter said it appeared Mr McDonald was looking to go straight across the junction, which curves to the left.

A driver coming from that direction, Keith Dye, saw a silhouette of what he thought was a cyclist waiting at the junction, the inquest heard.

The biker was hit by the car in the middle of the carriageway, with Mr Dye saying that the motorcyclist 'stood very little chance of making it safely across the junction'.

The coroner gave a verdict of road traffic collision and said it was 'likely' the bike had 'entered the car's path'.

But David Hoare, a police staff forensic vehicle examiner, said it was 'not possible' to establish whether the bike's lights were illuminated at the point of impact.

Forensic collision investigator, PC James Henderson, visited the scene an hour after the crash and added that if the bike's engine was running then the side lights should have been on automatically.

The court also heard that the give way lines on the road Mr McDonald was travelling on were 'in poor condition', but Mr Salter said he did not feel this caused the crash as the junction was still clear.

The cause of death was recorded as multiple injuries, particularly to the spine, chest, abdomen and pelvis.

A statement from Mr McDonald's family offered their 'sincere gratitude' to those who stopped at the scene, the coroner's office and police.

They also thanked Shell employees, who helped raise the money for the McDonalds to pay for his funeral in Carlisle, the town he grew up in.