The parents of a Bendigo cyclist killed by a truck driver two years ago have told a court about their anguish and the struggle to deal with their son's death.
Michael Keating was described as a young man with a "heart of gold" who loved trucks, drag-racing, hockey and working at his family's transport business. He was "generous and humble".
Mathew Anthony John Gray, 43, faced the County Court on Wednesday and admitted to a charge of dangerous driving causing Mr Keating's death. Gray also admitted to a drug driving charge.
He was behind the wheel of a rubbish truck that was collecting recycling when the crash happened in Golden Square about midday on June 7, 2019.
Mr Keating - aged 18 at the time - had left the family's work depot on MacDougall Road by bicycle to buy lunch when he was struck a short distance away at the intersection of Hattam Street and Woodward Road.
"As the accused proceeded through the give way sign on Woodward Road and began to enter the eastbound running lane of Hattam Street," prosecutor Daniel Porceddu told the court, "the front right-hand side of the waste collection truck struck Mr Keating as he was riding.
"Investigators have obtained the data from the truck for that day. The last plotted GPS speed of the truck prior to the collision was taken at 12.10pm at a location approximately 17 metres north on Woodward Road from the painted give way line. The plotted speed of the truck at this time was 34.1 kilometres per hour."
A security camera at a nearby business captured footage of the collision. The court heard there was no evidence of braking.
"One thing that's very obvious (from the CCTV) is the cyclist," Judge Michael Tinney told the court. "The other thing that was obvious was (Mathew Gray) wasn't going to stop."
"This is one of those rare cases - and they're very rare - that we can see what happened."
Gray was arrested and tested for drugs at the scene. The court heard Gray had used methylamphetamine the night before the crash, having earlier been to see the circus with his family.
During a formal interview he told investigators he "couldn't see anything" as he pulled the truck out on to Hattam Street.
"He got to the white line in the middle of the road, felt something and heard a noise," Mr Porceddu said, summarising Gray's comments to police. "He thought he had hit a sign."
Glenn Keating read his victim impact statement to the court, saying his son was meant to to take over the family's transport business.
But he said that since the crash he wondered about the point of carrying on with work. The loud music Michael played at the depot had been replaced with silence, he said.
"When I got the phone call it was total disbelief," Glenn Keating said, telling the court he was in Queensland when he was told about the crash.
"There will always be a hole there, an empty seat at the table, something missing all the time.
"The last 24 months have devastated our family."
Michael Keating's mother Sue told the court she felt guilty and angry.
"How do you put the loss of Michael into words? There really are no words to describe how I feel," she said.
"I'm angry all the time... I'm broken and I will never be whole again.
"I feel like Michael has been forgotten, that he doesn't matter. He does matter, he's my son."
Fiona Reed, Michael's aunty, addressed Mr Gray directly in her statement, saying she had no respect for him.
"To drive a heavy vehicle comes with a greater responsibility," she told the court, highlighting the family's knowledge of the trucking industry and the risks drivers faced.
Defence lawyer Markorius Habib told the court while it was a serious matter, Gray's action's were at the lower end of the scale for moral culpability.
But Judge Tinney pushed Mr Habib on the issue, saying "any prudent motorist" should have seen the cyclist approaching and Gray could not have made an "adequate check" before entering the intersection.
The judge also questioned why a guilty plea was not entered sooner, given the video evidence clearly showed what happened.
Mr Habib said Gray had lived in the Bendigo region his whole life and struggled with drugs "for some time". Gray had suffered from depression for many years, Mr Habib said.
Gray had been driving trucks for four years, Mr Habib said, and had not worked in the role since.
The defence lawyer also argued Gray was a low risk of reoffending and was remorseful. A letter of apology was tendered to the court, and Mr Habib said Gray had expressed his sorrow to the Keating family.
"A long time coming," Judge Tinney noted.
The judge will hand down the sentence next week. Gray remains in custody.
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