A young driver could not fully see through his frosted windscreen when he smashed into a cyclist in Brown Hill last year, causing him significant injuries.
Kurt Powell’s poor decision to drive with limited visibility on the icy morning of July 1 was “an error many of us could make”, the Ballarat Magistrates Court was told on Thursday.
Driving north along Daylesford Road at 8.30am, Powell was attempting to merge left to get onto the Western Highway when he hit the 59-year-old male cyclist travelling in the same direction.
The cyclist suffered a brain injury, broken leg and post-traumatic amnesia and was treated in a Melbourne hospital.
His physical and psychological injuries are life-long, he said through a victim impact statement read to the court.
Powell, 23, pleaded guilty to careless driving, rather than the more serious charge of dangerous driving causing serious injury.
Despite the prosecution pushing for the most serious charge to proceed, magistrate Alan Spillane agreed with the defence counsel that Powell’s driving was not dangerous.
“The only thing the accused has done wrong in this case is driving without a clear windscreen,” Mr Spillane said.
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Defence lawyer Brett Bryant said his client made the best effort he could to drive to the conditions while on his way to work.
Powell told police he had trouble cleaning the ice off his windscreen, the vehicle’s demister was on and he did not have great visibility.
“We say at best he has attempted to drive to the conditions. He says, ‘on my way to work and (with) poor visibility, I didn’t see the cyclist’,” Mr Bryant said.
“We say it’s careless (driving), not dangerous (driving).”
Mr Bryant said Powell, who looked down during most of the hearing, was completely affected by the incident and had worked with the victim and his family to sort out insurance.
“What he has put the victim through has weighed on him,” he said.
In sentencing the Ballarat East man, magistrate Alan Spillane said he had the greatest sympathy for the victim, but he did not want to ruin Powell’s future opportunities.
“Your behaviour has led to the victim suffering very significant physical and psychological injuries. They will remain with him forever; scarring is an eternal reminder of what happened,” Mr Spillane said.
“It’s not hoon behaviour. You made an error on that morning and possibly just an error many of us could make, but you made an error that caused very significant injuries to another person.
“It’s something any of us could do in the circumstances.”
Powell was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond without conviction and ordered to pay $500 to the court fund.
The court was told he had no prior convictions and had shown genuine remorse.
The incident follows two prominent cases involving vehicles and cyclists in the past two years.
Less than two months earlier, Ballarat cyclist Luke Taylor was airlifted the The Alfred hospital in a critical condition following an incident involving a ute at the corner of Cuthberts Road and Whites Road.
Just one year earlier Christian Ashby was almost killed when he was struck while riding around Lake Wendouree.
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