A Maltese teenager was sentenced to four years in prison after killing a cyclist in Poland while driving under the influence of marijuana.

The 18-year-old, who was driving without a licence, has also been banned from driving for life, according to Polish media.

The teenager was driving a Mercedes in Bielawa, near the Polish capital Warsaw, when he fatally hit a 77-year-old cyclist on June 3.

The underage driver lost control of a Mercedes hatchback while on a curve and veered into the opposite lane, hitting the man and killing him on the spot.

The Maltese man, identified in the media as Piero C, was arraigned in court in June, charged with breaking traffic laws and causing the fatal accident through recklessness.

News outlets had reported the driver was sober at the time of the incident. However, subsequent drug tests showed he was under the influence of marijuana.

According to the Warsaw District Court, he was driving at double the speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour.

He has also been ordered to pay PLN30,000 (nearly €7,000) to the wife of the deceased cyclist.

The defence said the verdict – which is not final – was too harsh. It argued that the court did not take into consideration mitigating circumstances, such as the age of the driver or the incorrect road markings.

Testing for substances took place some weeks after the incident, according to the defence, which also appealed the decision.