Plea hearings in the deaths of two bike riders

This week, two cases involving the death of people riding bikes went before the County Court in Victoria. Bicycle Network is watching both cases closely and have provided an update below.

6-7 Nov: Plea hearing for Michael Panayides

At the plea hearing, 28-year-old Michael Panayides who killed Dutch woman Gitta Scheenhouwer while she was riding her bike on Chapel Street last year, plead guilty to culpable driving causing death.

Culpable driving has a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

He also plead guilty to failing to stop and render assistance after a collision, theft of a motor vehicle, recklessly causing injury and negligently dealing with the proceeds of crime.

On Wednesday, the court heard harrowing victim impact statements from Gitta’s partner, sister, brother and mother who had travelled to Australia from The Netherlands for the hearing.

Bicycle Network was in court on Thursday and heard of Mr Panayides long criminal history, drug addiction and previous incarcerations. However, despite the recklessness of his driving on the day he killed Gitta, the defence pointed out his driving record was previously unblemished.

While the police summary revealed that Mr Panayides admitted using heroin on the night before the crash, whether he was affected by drugs at the time of the crash is unknown.

Both the prosecution and defence accepted that Gitta was blameless.

His Honour, Judge Michael McInerny commented that to call Mr Panayides driving behavior outrageous on the day he killed Gitta is an understatement.

In order to enable Gitta’s family to return to the Netherlands,  His Honour, Judge Michael McInerny expedited Mr Panayides sentencing to 15 November.

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6 Nov: Pre-sentence hearing for Mehdi Sameri

At the pre-sentence hearing in Victoria’s County Court, Mehdi Sameri, 20, plead guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of 49-year-old Colin Waters who was riding his bike in Taylors Lakes.

He also plead guilty to failing to stop at the scene.

The court heard that Mr Sameri, an apprentice plumber had only slept for 5.5 hours the evening before the crash.

Sameri told police he fell asleep, before running a red light and crashing into Mr Waters.

Mr Sameri had no criminal history.

His Honour, Judge Paul Lacava adjourned the hearing until December 7 for Mr Sameri to undergo a youth justice assessment and psychological evaluation.

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