Hit-and-run driver who killed cyclist sentenced to 11 years in jail

Date: Nov 12, 2019

Michael Panayides, a speeding driver who killed a Dutch cyclist and fled from the scene of the crime, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was also given a 20-year driving ban.

A Sunday morning accident

Gitta Scheenhouwer, an architect in Melbourne originally from the Netherlands, was riding in a designated biking lane on Chapel Street on a Sunday in August 2018 when she was struck by Panayides. The driver was going 80 kilometres per hour in a 40km/h zone and was attempting to pass another vehicle when he lost control and hit Scheenhouwer. On his way to purchase drugs, Panayides fled the crash, but his stolen vehicle was seen on CCTV prior to the accident.

Panayides pled guilty to charges including failure to assist, recklessly causing injury and culpable driving causing death. He was sentenced to 11 years in jail, with a minimum of eight-and-a-half years in the County Court.

Cyclist’s family in town from the Netherlands

Scheenhouwer’s parents, along with her boyfriend, Thomas Kleinegris, who the cyclist was living with at the time in Melbourne, flew in from the Netherlands and attended the sentencing.

Judge Michael McInerney had strong words for Panayides during the hearing. “It’s a serious case of negligent culpable driving emanating from blatant disregard for the life and safety of others on the road,” Judge McInerney said. “Failing to stop in these circumstances is a despicable and cowardly act.”

Cycling deaths in Australia

Since 2000, there have been 718 cycling deaths in Australia, with 74 of those occurring in South Australia. Vehicles have been involved in 62 of those cycling deaths, with machines ranging from heavy rigid trucks to articulated trucks to cars.

Are you eligible for the NSW motor accidents compensation scheme?

In December 2017, the NSW government implemented a new Green Slip scheme to assist citizens hurt on NSW roads. The following are eligible to make a claim if they are injured in a motor-vehicle accident in NSW:

  • Drivers and passengers
  • Riders and pillion passengers
  • Cyclists
  • Pedestrians

Claims can be related to physical or psychological injuries. After reporting the crash and getting the necessary vehicle information within 28 days of the accident, citizens can make a claim for personal injury benefits using their Service NSW account. Claims can be made for: medical expenses, a sum of your pre-accident earnings if time off work is needed and paid care for assistance during recovery.

Do you think you’re eligible for the NSW motor accidents scheme and are interested in making a claim? The experts at Gerard Malouf and Partners can help.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.