Three years jail for man who killed Michael Grinter

On Thursday 26 November, 65-year-old Timothy Scollary was sentenced to three years jail for driving into and killing Michael Grinter while he was riding his bike on 4 December 2018.

Mr Grinter, a world renowned flute maker and keen rider, was cycling on Fogartys Gap Road in Ravenswood South near Bendigo when he was hit by Mr Scollary.

Mr Scollary had been out for lunch with family before he crashed into Mr Grinter.

Scollary did not check the condition of Mr Grinter and did not call 000 (it was other passers-by who came to the assistance of Mr Grinter). His immediate response was to call his sister, say that he needed a lawyer and acknowledge he had been drink-driving. In the hours after the crash he recorded a blood alcohol level of 0.067.

At Bendigo County Court on Tuesday 26 November, Scollary pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death, failing to render assistance and failing a blood alcohol test. As well as a three-year jail sentence, he was disqualified from driving for eight years. He has a non-parole period of 18 months.

During the sentencing, Judge Trevor Wraight said that speeding wasn’t a factor in the crash, and that alcohol may not have been the main factor.

"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," said Judge Wraight.

Judge Wraight also said that while Scollary’s moral culpability was at neither the low or high end of the scale, he should have called emergency services.

"You did not immediately call triple zero for assistance and some 10 to 15 minutes passed before another person attended to Mr Grinter."

Disappointingly, Judge Wraight also referred to the crash as an “accident”, despite the facts and sentence clearly showing that Timothy Scollary was at fault and it was not an accident.

Scollary’s hearing was the third sentencing held in Victorian courts in three weeks relating to people who were killed while riding a bike. On 15 November Michael Panayides was sentenced for killing Dutch woman Gitta Scheenhouwer and on 21 November Billie Rodda escaped jail for killing professional cyclist Jason Lowndes.

There are many things that need to be done to stop people from being killed while riding a bike, including more supportive legislation for people who ride and building better places for riding.

Some of these things will take time, money and government debate, but the one thing everyone can do immediately is use correct language and make sure the offenders and not the victims are blamed. You can read more on why here.

Read The Age’s report about Timothy Scollary’s sentencing

Read Bicycle Network’s open letter to the media about crash reporting