A BENDIGO woman involved in a crash that killed professional cyclist Jason Lowndes has pleaded guilty to driving in a dangerous manner causing death.
Mr Lowndes, 23, died after he was struck while on a training ride on Sedgwick Road at Mandurang in December, 2017.
Billie Rodda, 22, faced the Bendigo County Court on Tuesday, during which Judge Wendy Wilmoth indicated a custodial sentence was not necessary.
After the sentencing indication, Rodda entered the dock to plead guilty. She cried as she delivered her plea.
The Lowndes family remained stoic throughout the hearing.
Rodda originally pleaded not guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing death, careless driving and using a mobile phone while driving.
On Tuesday, the defence and prosecution accepted Rodda was not using her phone in the moments before the crash.
The defence and prosecution also accepted she was driving between 80 kilometres an hour and 100 kilometres an hour at the time of impact.
This meant she had between 2.4 and four seconds to notice Mr Lowndes.
Defence counsel Rahmin de Kretser told the court there were unique factors at play in the case.
"The death of Mr Lowndes remains a tragic event that has had a profound impact on his family and friends," he said.
"There is no doubt the people who suffered the greatest cost were Mr Lowndes' family and friends.
"But this case is an exceptional one. There are a unique set of factors in play, including low moral culpability of the accused, uncertainty as to the speed and time she had to react, and finally the interplay of environmental factors."
Mr de Kretser said those environmental factors included the crash took place on a road where the speed limit was 100 kilometres an hour, there was dense bushland that led to shadows on the road, and there were no witnesses to the crash.
The defence counsel said there was also a lack of aggravating features, as Rodda was not speeding, nor fatigued, and she had no drugs or alcohol in her system.
Mr de Kretser said Rodda was not using or distracted by her phone at the time of impact.
He told the court while Rodda's use of her mobile phone prior to the crash was a relevant factor, it had no effect on elevating her moral culpability.
But crown prosecutor Grant Hayward said Rodda's moral culpability could be informed by her using the mobile phone in the lead-up to the crash.
"The way someone drives before a collision can inform moral culpability," Mr Hayward said. "She would have to accept that her inattention was the main cause of the crash."
Mr de Kretser said a community corrections order without a term of imprisonment would be an appropriate sentence.
"Deterrence should be moderated," he told the court. "Ms Rodda has no criminal history and no history of drugs, alcohol or antisocial behaviour.
"She doesn't present as a criminal mind. She has excellent prospects for rehabilitation and she's really trying to put her best foot forward."
The prosecution said the sentence should include some term of imprisonment.
"Courts recognise and acknowledge the premium of human life, that human life is valuable," Mr Hayward said.
"General deterrence is an important factor in these sorts of offences. Therefore, leniency for her youth and her lack of prior offending needs to be tempered.
"In my submission, Ms Rodda and other young people remain as vehicles for general deterrence.
"There should be a sentence of imprisonment."
But Judge Wilmoth told the court she was satisfied a custodial sentence was not necessary.
Rodda will appear before the County Court in Bendigo on Friday for a plea hearing. She will be sentenced at a later date.
Jason Lowndes was an elite cyclist who rode professionally around the world.
After his death, his family and friends remembered a positive man whose ability to make other people's lives better was what made him special.
"Jason had a positive outlook on every situation and always saw the best in people,'' fellow pro rider Robbie Hucker said.
"Having the pleasure of knowing someone like that made your life better.
"He didn't go out of his way to make your day better... it was just his natural personality to care about others."
Bendigo cyclist Chris Hamilton lived with Mr Lowndes in Girona, in the north-east of Spain.
"He (Jason) changed me a lot as a person,'' Hamilton said.
"He changed me for the better. He was like my brother. I went through some hard times with things that happened back home, but he was always there for me. We wouldn't always need to talk about things, just his presence would cheer you up."
Tributes for Mr Lowndes also came from Cycling Australia and the Israel Cycling Academy team, which he raced for in 2017.
In 2016, Mr Lowndes represented Australia at the Road World Championships in Qatar where he finished sixth in the under-23 road race.
- December 2017: Cyclist Jason Lowndes dies after crash involving car
- December 2017: Bendigo cycling community in mourning after death of young athlete
- December 2017: Bikes, laughs, music and cakes - Jason Lowndes' wonderful world
- January 2018: A lap of honour for Bendigo cyclist Jason Lowndes | Photos, Video
- July 2018: Police lay charges over fatal crash with cyclist Jason Lowndes, near Bendigo
- July 2018: Major Collision Investigation Unit to return to scene of Lowndes crash
- July 2018: Major Collision Investigation Unit returns to Sedgwick Road
- August 2018: Woman charged over crash which killed cyclist Jason Lowndes appears in Bendigo court
- September 2018: Driver sent text messages before fatal Lowndes crash
- October 2018: Defence to probe investigation at Jason Lowndes fatal crash committal
- February 2019: Billie Rodda pleads not guilty to crash that killed Bendigo cyclist Jason Lowndes
- May 2019: Video message allegedly exchanged minutes before crash that killed Jason Lowndes
- May 2019: Date set for trial over cyclist Jason Lowndes' death
More to come
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.'