A 21-year-old woman who allegedly hit and killed cyclist Jason Lowndes will stand trial after a court heard she allegedly sent a text message 68 seconds before the fatal collision.
On the morning of December 22, 2017, Billie Rodda was involved in a text message conversation with her boyfriend and sent seven messages and received 10 during a half-hour drive, which ended when she knocked Mr Lowndes from his bicycle in Mandurang at 10.15am, prosecutors allege.
Mr Lowndes, 23, an emerging star of Australian cycling and a professional rider in Europe, was flown to hospital but died that day.
Ms Rodda, 21, is to stand trial this year on a charge of dangerous driving causing death. She has pleaded not guilty but prosecutors allege her inattention at the wheel made her responsible for Mr Lowndes' death.
The County Court this week heard Ms Rodda and her boyfriend exchanged 18 messages before the crash, including one that had a video attached to the message: "Ha ha ha. How good is this?"
Prosecutor Georgina Coghlan said that at 10.14am Ms Rodda tried to send a message she had composed, but it did not transmit because of poor phone reception in the bushy area.
Sixty-eight seconds after trying to send the message she hit Mr Lowndes on Sedgwick Road. At 10.16am she called triple zero after checking the critically injured cyclist.
Ms Rodda was driving alone and there were no witnesses but police were able to determine the timing of the crash and the lead-up based on data extracted from the driver's phone and the cyclist's GPS device.
Defence counsel Rahmin de Kretser said Ms Rodda swore to police she wasn't looking at her phone at the time of crash, but instead had looked at her car's speedometer moments before. The court heard she was inattentive for between two and four seconds before impact.
"This is a short period of inattention," Mr de Kretser said.
But Ms Coghlan said prosecutors didn't accept Ms Rodda was looking at the speedometer. She said Ms Rodda was inattentive throughout her drive that day, based on the number of text messages she sent and received.
"We are not talking about yes and no messages here, some were lengthy messages," the prosecutor said.
There is no suggestion Ms Rodda was speeding that day, as police believe she drove between 80-90km/h in a 100km/h zone. The court heard Mr Lowndes could have been about 1.5 metres out from the edge of the road when Ms Rodda's car approached, might have been wearing earphones and was wearing dark cycling gear.
But Ms Coghlan said Ms Rodda was aware cyclists regularly used Sedgwick Road, as she drove along the road six days a week on her way to and from work.
Judge Gerard Mullaly was told on Tuesday the matter would proceed to trial later this year.
- The Age
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.