An Albanian cyclist accused of knocking down and killing a hospital worker told a court he fled the crash scene because he was worried about being deported.
Ermir Loka, 23, allegedly rode through a red light and hit Peter McCombie, 72, as the HR administrator was making his way home from the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
Mr McCombie's head hit the pavement so hard it fractured his skull and damaged his brain.
He also suffered a fractured jaw bone, a broken rib and bruising to his legs after the collision on Bow Road on July 3 last year.
Mr McCombie was taken to hospital for treatment, but sadly died from his injuries eight days later despite the valiant efforts of medical staff, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard on Monday.
Giving evidence Loka claimed he had two jobs and had only been getting three hours sleep a night in the week leading up to the incident.
He said he was working from 8am to 5pm at a building site in Peckham then working in the evening at a Turkish restaurant in Gants Hill, finishing at 4:30am.
Hugh Mullan, defending Loka, asked: "How much sleep did you get each night?"
Loka answered: "Approximately 3 hours in a 24 hour period."
Mr Mullan then asked: "How tired were you that afternoon?"
Loka replied: "To be honest, I was quite tired, but it was the last day and we were going to be done and I had the weekend to rest."
Mr Mullan asked: "Since you started riding a bike in London, have you ever cycled through a red light, to your knowledge?"
Loka answered: "No, the first and main point is that it is a dangerous thing to do, which has risks for yourself.
"There is also a possibility that someone will be crossing the road and you might hit them, you can cause an accident and many other things.
"I did not deliberately go through the red lights.
"I saw that the person was frozen in place and I tried to swerve to the right, but I just could not manage instinctively to copy what the cyclist in front of me did, I just didn't have time to do it.
"I tried to go for the brakes but I didn't manage to press them. I fell to the ground face down, for next two or three seconds I was lying on the ground, I couldn't understand what happened.
"Then I got up, I looked to my left, I could see the man lying down, I could see his eyes were open and he was wearing a mask.
"I had a very short time to think about what to do, and seeing that the accident happened in the middle of the road, and the police would be there within 2 or 3 minutes and would stop me and find out I was here illegally.
"Thinking it was not a serious accident with the police, hoping that the gentleman would get better, I decided to leave, I had only a few seconds to think, it was split second decision.
"I have done wrong, I have not right thing, I was a coward, but it happened, what happened happened. I do not blame Mr McCombie."
Mr Mullan asked: "Why did you not go up to Mr McCombie to check he was OK?"
Loka replied: "I was in a state of shock, I didn't know how to react, how to touch him or talk to him, the only thing that came to my mind was to leave."
He added he fled the scene because he believed the police would discover he was in the UK illegally.
He said he did not see Mr McCombie's head was bleeding after the collision.
After CCTV stills of Loka were circulated by police a friend confronted him about the crash, the court heard. He handed himself in to Leyton police station on 28 July.
Loka, of Manor Road, Walthamstow, denies manslaughter and causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving and the trial continues
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