Guilty plea in cyclist’s death

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

A Bunbury truck driver who was adjusting a sun visor when he drifted into the emergency lane and fatally struck a cyclist on Forrest Highway last year has been spared jail time.

Justin Robert Roney, 38, was driving a prime mover on the highway in Binningup before he crashed into Shivinand Malgonda Jadhav who was competing in a 600km endurance cycling event on June 3.

Mr Jadhav – a father-of-one – died at the scene.

Roney was sentenced in Busselton District Court on Monday after pleading guilty to dangerous driving in circumstances which resulted in death.

On the day of the horrific tragedy, which was captured on dash cam and point-to-point cameras on the highway, Roney was making his second trip to Perth for work.

About 11.25am, Roney adjusted his sun visor to stop glare on his windscreen, drifting into the emergency lane where he travelled for about 130m before hitting Mr Jadhav. In court, defence lawyer Sam Vandongen argued that Roney’s inattention was “for a very short period of time”.

“He just did not see the cyclist ... until he heard the bang on the truck and looked in the rear vision mirror,” Mr Vandongen said.

“At the time the offence took place ... he was being more attentive to a glare on his windscreen and adjusting a visor in order to deal with that.

“It’s a period of seconds in which his attention was directed to something inside the cabin.”

State prosecutor Nathan Fawkes said the length of time Roney had drifted into the lane was significant and that he was in control of a big vehicle, travelling at speed and failed to pay proper attention.

“It’s one thing to be inattentive on the road for a period of 130m. It’s another thing entirely to do so whilst you’re in charge of a very large vehicle which is inherently more dangerous than a smaller vehicle,” Mr Fawkes said.

He also said Mr Jadhav had equipment on his bike and was wearing clothes designed to enhance his visibility, including lights, a bright coloured jacket and reflectors on his calves.

Judge Laurie Levy accepted Roney was “extremely and deeply” remorseful and his “criminal culpability must be considered” at the lower end of the scale.

Roney was sentenced to two-and-a-half years jail, suspended for 18 months and he was disqualified from driving for two years.

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