UPDATE 5.30pm: The family of Jason Lowndes, the cyclist who died after he was struck by a car at Mandurang on December 22, 2017, say they will continue to advocate for road safety in the wake of their loved one's death.
Mr Lowndes' father Graeme Lowndes, supported by wife Trudie, spoke outside the County Court in Bendigo on Thursday morning after driver Billie Rodda was sentenced.
Judge Wendy Wilmoth sentenced Rodda to a three-year community corrections order, 200 hours of unpaid community work and a $2000 fine after she pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and using a mobile phone while driving as a probationary licence holder.
She was also banned from driving for three years.
Mr Lowndes urged drivers to "leave the phones alone".
He also had safety messages for cyclists themselves.
"I am a very strong believer that all cyclists should be wearing some form of lights and decent clothing," he said.
"Dark clothing might look trendy, but it just doesn't cut it when it comes to shadows and the roads.
"You just can't see some cyclists. And that's what I'm trying to work on, to get something to change and hopefully cyclists can take this on board."
Speaking outside court on behalf of the family, Mr Lowndes said they were disappointed with the sentence handed down to Rodda, saying they were "numbed by the poor recognition of somebody's life".
"A mobile phone was used through the offender's journey on the day," Mr Lowndes said.
"There must be serious penalties for this offence in order for this to influence the use of mobile phones whilst driving... In the meantime, our family are hoping that this tragedy will remind people of the importance of safety in road use, resulting in less people being hurt."
He also spoke of their "beautiful son, Jason - brother, partner and friend".
"Jason was kind, infectious, generous and a genuine... young man, loved by many," he said.
"This tragedy took him too soon and has left a huge hole in everyone's hearts."
On the morning of the collision, Rodda was driving home from work.
She finished at 9.44am and sent a message to her boyfriend, continuing to exchange messages as she drove.
At 10.14am she sent her last message.
One minute and nine seconds later, she crashed into the back of Mr Lowndes on his bicycle on a left-inclined bend on Sedgwick Road.
Read more: Cyclist killed after crash at Mandurang
Mr Lowndes was thrown forward from his bike and was airlifted to hospital, but died before emergency surgery could be performed.
Judge Wilmoth said a description of the crash location was vital to understanding how the crash occurred.
She noted the bitumen fell away eight to 10 centimetres from the fog line on the edge of the road to gravel and then bushland, so cyclists could not ride outside the lane.
It was not part of the prosecution case that Rodda was distracted by her phone immediately before the crash.
As she approached the bend she braked, before accelerating and looking down at her speedometer.
It was accepted by both the prosecution and defence that she was travelling between 80 and 100 km/h, which would have given her between 2.2 and 4 seconds to see Mr Lowndes before the impact.
After the collision, Rodda immediately got out of her car and called triple-0.
Another driver stopped to help, speaking to the emergency operator as Rodda's distress meant she could not provide the location.
Other people, including two doctors and a nurse, performed CPR on Mr Lowndes until paramedics arrived.
Rodda told police she had glanced down at her speedometer and when she looked up, Mr Lowndes was right in front of the passenger side of the car, so she had no time to react.
She did not brake or steer before the crash, but braked immediately afterward.
Evidence showed Mr Lowndes was riding in the centre of the lane when he was hit, and while visibility was good that day, the bicycle was black.
A driver who might have passed him earlier observed he was wearing black and white clothing and seemed very focused on his cycling.
Judge Wilmoth said there was other evidence that the bush cast shadows on the road, which might have had an impact on visibility.
"While these circumstances do not diminish the significance of your inattention, the position of Mr Lowndes on the road, 1.48 metres from the fog line, and the apparent focused manner of his cycling, may have contributed to a degree of contribution by him," she said.
A defence reconstruction expert concluded that had Mr Lowndes been riding further to the left, the collision would not have occurred, although a Major Collision Investigation Unit detective said the side mirror and Mr Lowndes' elbow might have connected.
Judge Wilmoth noted there were no such aggravating factors in Rodda's offending as speeding, intoxication, sleep deprivation, or aggressive driving.
"My conclusion is your momentary inattention, together with the other surrounding circumstances, does place your culpability at the lowest end of the range of seriousness, and I shall sentence you on that basis," Judge Wilmoth said.
Rodda had no criminal history, nor driving infringements.
After the crash she completed a defensive driving course.
"You are a person of excellent character, who is well-regarded by the community and has achieved much in sport and through your work," Judge Wilmoth said.
She noted Rodda had deferred a TAFE course because of the animosity she had experienced in the wake of the tragedy, which had also led her to become quite isolated.
A clinical psychologist reported on the "regret and profound sadness" Rodda felt for the death of Mr Lowndes, which Judge Wilmoth said was emphasised in a letter she wrote to his family.
She said such factors were relevant to Rodda's remorse and rehabilitation, and ultimately the sentence she received.
Given Rodda's age, Judge Wilmoth said rehabilitation held greater importance as a sentencing factor.
"I am satisfied that your prospects for rehabilitation are excellent, and that if and when you once again become a licensed driver, you will be a responsible and careful driver," she said.
Rodda's plea of guilty was an important mitigating factor, saving the expense and time of a trial that would have involved complex concepts.
The long delay in resolving the case was another mitigating factor.
Judge Wilmoth noted the victim impact statements from Mr Lowndes' family and partner.
"Mr Lowndes was indeed a treasured member of his family, and a highly regarded member of the cycling and wider community," Judge Wilmoth said.
While determining Rodda's moral culpability was low, Judge Wilmoth found her use of the mobile phone while driving was a serious example of the offence, as she sent 11 messages and received seven, including a video message.
A statement from the Lowndes family is below:
"Firstly our family would like to say thank you for all of the support that we have received since Jason was so suddenly taken. We have had incredible support from our family, friends, the local community and the cycling community; locally, nationally and internationally. We are extremely grateful to everyone that has been there for us.
"The criminal justice process has been difficult. The court process has been extremely lengthy and only added to our pain. We felt that the process was heavily biased to the offender and that the sentence fails to recognise the loss of life... Our case included two sentence indication hearings where the offender was allowed to see if they would be sentenced to a term of imprisonment if they pled guilty. This process greatly added to the length of time spent in court and caused us more distress. If a person is guilty for a crime they should accept that the judge will sentence appropriately and not be offered the opportunity to jump to the last page of the book to see if they'd like to keep reading.
"A mobile phone was used throughout the offender's journey on that day... Although there was no evidence to show that she was using her phone at the moment of impact... Use of a phone demonstrates lack of due care and attention on the road and to everyone using it. Currently, the maximum sentence for use of a mobile phone whilst driving is a fine. There must be more serious penalties for this offence in order to influence the use of mobile phones whilst driving... In the meantime our family are hoping that this tragedy will remind people of the importance of safe road use and result in less people being hurt.
"Lastly we would like to acknowledge our beautiful son, brother, partner and friend - Jason. He was a pillar of strength to us all. He was kind, infectious, generous and a genuine young man who everybody loved. Jason was in the prime of his life at the time he was killed. He had achieved so much with his cycling career and had such a bright future in front of him. He had so much more to give, not just to cycling but to every aspect of living. This tragedy took him far too soon and has left a huge hole in everyone's hearts."
EARLIER: The woman who admitted to causing the crash that killed cyclist Jason Lowndes in 2017 has been sentenced to a three-year community corrections order and 200 hours of unpaid community work.
Mr Lowndes, 23, died on December 22, 2017 after he was struck by Billie Rodda's car while on a training ride on Sedgwick Road at Mandurang.
Rodda, now 22, pleaded guilty last month in the County Court to dangerous driving causing death. She also pleaded guilty to a summary charge of using a mobile phone while driving.
Her plea came after Judge Wendy Wilmoth indicated a prison sentence was not necessary.
Rodda was today sentenced to a three-year community corrections order, 200 hours of unpaid community work and fined $2000 for using a mobile phone while driving. She has been disqualified from driving for three years and her mental health is to be monitored.
Earlier in the court proceedings, Rodda had pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing death, as well as careless driving and using a mobile phone while driving.
Judge Wendy Wilmoth says Rodda's moral culpability was at the lowest end of the scale.
She noted Rodda's remorse and said her prospects for rehabilitation were excellent.
At last month's hearing, both the prosecution and defence accepted Rodda had not been using her phone in the moments immediately before the crash.
The court heard she was driving between 80 and 100 km/h at the time.
Defence lawyer Rahmin de Kretser said Rodda's moral culpability was low, adding there were no such aggravating factors as speed, substance use or fatigue at play.
Mr de Kretser said his client's use of her phone before the crash was relevant, but did not heighten her culpability.
However, prosecutor Grant Hayward argued this informed her moral culpability.
Mr Hayward said imprisonment should form part of the sentence, although Judge Wilmoth said this was not necessary.
Mr Lowndes' family later made victim impact statements to the court, in which they described their grief at losing their loved one.
"I have been robbed of my son, robbed of seeing him grow up, robbed of seeing him in a sport that he loved," his father, Graeme Lowndes, said.
"I will never get to be a grandfather to his children.
"I think of him all the time. He's the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think about when I go to sleep."
Mr Lowndes' mother Trudie Lowndes spoke of her pride in her son and his achievements.
"Jason, we will always be your family and we will never forget you," Mrs Lowndes said.
"It will be bloody hard without you. We miss you so much so don't go far away."
His sister Rebecca Lowndes said her brother's death had felt like the "the floor was ripped open" beneath her, while his partner, Kelly Younger, spoke of their plans for their future together.
December 22, 2017: Jason Lowndes is struck from behind by a car driven by Billie Rodda while on a training ride on Sedgwick Road, Mandurang, at 10.15am. He is airlifted to The Royal Melbourne Hospital, but dies that afternoon.
July 9, 2018: Rodda, then 20, appears in court for the first time after being charged with dangerous driving causing death, careless driving and using a mobile phone while driving.
September 21, 2018: Rodda's defence makes an unsuccessful application to have the case heard in the Magistrates' Court, rather than the County Court. The timing of text messages sits at the heart of the matter.
February 25, 2019: Rodda is committed to stand trial in the County Court.
October 15, 2019: Rodda pleads guilty to dangerous driving causing death, after County Court Judge Wendy Wilmoth indicates a custodial sentence is not necessary.
October 18, 2019: Mr Lowndes' loved ones tell the court of the impact his death has had on their lives, during a plea hearing.
November 21, 2019: Rodda is sentenced.
Jason Lowndes was an elite cyclist, but it was the way he made the lives of those around him better that made him special.
"Jason had a positive outlook on every situation and always saw the best in people... He didn't go out of his way to make your day better... it was just his natural personality to care about others,'' fellow pro rider Robbie Hucker said.
The County Court heard Rodda allegedly sent a text message 68 seconds before hitting Mr Lowndes, although the defence said Rodda was not looking at her phone but her speedometer in the moments before the crash.
Rodda's defence challenged the prosecution's assertion that a text message was written one minute before the crash, suggesting poor mobile signal in the area affected the times of the messages.
The court heard Rodda stopped immediately after the crash and called triple-0.
Investigators return to Sedgwick Road to conduct tests, using a bicycle and a car.
Bendigo South East College established the Athlete Development Program Jason Lowndes Squad.
As well as a tribute to Mr Lowndes, the squad wore jerseys with the slogan 'Eyes Wide Open', a reminder to road users to watch out for cyclists.
Chris Savage, from road safety organisation White Bike Foundation, left a monument near the site of Mr Lowndes' fatal crash as a tribute to the young cyclist.
Mr Savage was riding from Dromana to Canberra in memory of cyclists to raise awareness.
The Ride of Silence took on particular poignancy in its 13th year in the wake of Mr Lowndes' tragic death.
In the wake of his son's death, Graeme Lowndes called for people to be mindful of cyclists.
"I really want to push 'a metre matters'," he said.
"A couple of minutes won't change your life if you are in the car behind someone on a push bike; you run him over and it can change your life too.
The second day of the 2018 Cycling Australia National Road Championships saw more than 300 cyclists dedicate a lap to Mr Lowndes.
Friends, teammates and family came together for the fitting tribute.
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