In the minutes after knocking a cyclist from his bicycle, Timothy Scollary stood next to his car, held his mobile phone and faced a choice.
He could have checked on Michael Grinter, who was fatally injured and laying nearby, but didn't. He didn't call for an ambulance either. Instead Scollary called his sister.
Later, police discovered, he also sent his sister a series of text messages: "Call me now" and then "Urgent now." Then, 18 minutes later: "I have killed a cyclist" and "A very good lawyer would be handy."
Another 10 minutes later Scollary, who had been drinking before the collision, texted: "Real reality is the .005 level."
Scollary at no stage called triple zero after he knocked Mr Grinter from his bike on Fogartys Gap Road in Ravenswood South on December 4 last year, the County Court heard on Tuesday.
Instead, his sister called for an ambulance when the siblings spoke on the phone, and other drivers who stopped went to Mr Grinter's aid. Two women performed CPR but the 65-year-old died at the scene.
While motorists were attending to Mr Grinter, Scollary was on the phone and was overheard saying: "I'll be in jail ... I've had a few."
That forecast proved true on Tuesday as judge Trevor Wraight jailed Scollary, 65, for three years after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, failing to render assistance and failing a blood alcohol test. He recorded a blood alcohol reading of .067 in the hours after the crash.
Judge Wraight accepted Scollary would have panicked after the crash but found the driver was able to make a rational decision to call his sister, and appeared to be more concerned for himself than for the cyclist.
"In this instance it seems inexplicable that you were aware of the fact that you had struck a cyclist and would have been well aware that he would have could be seriously injured, however you did not approach him to ascertain the situation or offer assistance," he told Scollary.
"More disturbingly, you did not immediately call triple zero for assistance and some 10 to 15 minutes passed before another person attended to Mr Grinter."
As drivers stopped and asked if Scollary was OK, he told them police had been called, the court heard. But he told one: "F--- off, I've called my sister, he's dead."
Scollary drank two glasses of wine at a lunch with his sister and their elderly mother that afternoon and was returning to Melbourne, near the entrance to the Calder Freeway, when he veered to the left on a crest and hit Mr Grinter's bicycle from behind at about 6.30pm.
Mr Grinter, a renowned flute maker and keen road cyclist, was wearing lycra and a helmet. Judge Wraight said Mr Grinter's family had told the court the father of two was a loved and respected man who would be greatly missed.
Police believe Scollary was driving at between 76km/h and 87km/h in a 100km/h zone and veered too far to the left of the road in the moments before the collision. Judge Wraight said it was more likely Scollary's loss of concentration rather than the effect of the alcohol that caused the crash.
"What is clear is that you lost concentration for a period of time long enough to allow you to drift into the far left position as described when you struck Mr Grinter," the judge told him.
Scollary used to drive a taxi and once left a passenger who fell after they had a dispute over a fare, the court heard.
But Judge Wraight accepted he was remorseful and empathetic towards Mr Grinter's family and had insight into his "terrible mistake".
Scollary had been involved in several business ventures through his working life, including operating the taxi with friends and financing a wildlife photography book.
He now has prostate cancer and must spend 18 months in prison before he is eligible for parole. He was disqualified from driving for eight years.
"The tragedy of this accident is a reminder that a driver must remain alert at all times on roads such as this," Judge Wraight said.
- The Age
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