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Driver who killed Australian pro cyclist Jason Lowndes to be spared jail

Motorist attempted to send text message 68 seconds before hitting cyclist from behind

The driver responsible for the death of professional cyclist Jason Lowndes is unlikely to go to jail after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death. 23-year-old Lowndes was killed shortly before Christmas in 2017 when he was struck from behind while training.

Last year Billie Rodda, now 22, was charged with dangerous driving causing death, careless driving and using a phone while driving in connection with the incident.

Rodda told police that she had been driving at between 80 and 100 kilometres an hour. She said she had been looking at her speedometer when she rounded a bend and saw Lowndes, but said she didn’t have time to react.

Last year a court heard that Rodda sent 11 text messages and received seven between 9.44am and the 10.15am collision.

Prosecutor Georgina Coghlan said that at 10.14am Rodda had tried to send a message, but it did not transmit because of poor phone reception. She hit Lowndes 68 seconds later.

"We are not talking about yes and no messages here, some were lengthy messages," she said.

The Bendigo Advertiser reports that both the defence and prosecution this week accepted that she was not using her phone in the moments before the crash.

The prosecution did however argue that Rodda’s moral culpability could be informed by her use of her mobile phone in the lead-up to the crash.

“She would have to accept that her inattention was the main cause of the crash," said Grant Hayward.

Defending, Rahmin de Kretser said the case was 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."

Hayward said Rodda should be sentenced to jail, but Judge Wilmoth said she was satisfied a custodial sentence was not necessary.

Wilmoth ordered Rodda be assessed for a community corrections order. She will be sentenced at a later date.

Lowndes raced for Drapac in 2016 and Israel Cycling Academy in 2017 and had been due to ride for the British team JLT-Condor in 2018.

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