Driver that caused death of Australian pro Jason Lowndes will not face jail

Billie Rodda pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

A driver that caused the death of Australian pro racer Jason Lowndes will not face jail after pleading guilty.

Lowndes was on a training ride in southern Australia in December 2017 when he was hit by a car being driven by Billie Rodda, and the 23-year-old died during surgery that afternoon.

Rodda, 22, had pleaded not guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing death, careless driving and using a mobile phone while driving, but on Tuesday (October 15) she pleaded guilty to driving in a dangerous manner causing death, reports the Bendigo Advertiser newspaper.

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The court had previously heard that Rodda had sent a text message 68 seconds before she hit Lowndes, but on Tuesday both the defence and the prosecution accepted she was not using her phone in the moments before the crash.

Judge Wendy Wilmoth indicated a prison sentence for Rodda would not be necessary, and Rodda then entered her guilty plea.

She had been travelling at between 80 and 100km/h on the 100km/h road, which meant Rodda had between 2.4 and four seconds to see Lowndes.

The court heard that Rodda was not speeding, she was not fatigued and she had no drugs or alcohol in her system during the crash, which happened near dense bushland that caused shadows on the roads.

There were no witnesses to the incident, which happened in Sedgwick Road, Mandurang in the county of Bendigo, near Melbourne.

Rodda, from Kangaroo Flat, is due to be sentenced at a later date.

Lowndes was an Australian pro who was racing for Israel Cycling Academy at the time of his death and was due to ride for JLT-Condor the following year.

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He was a top-10 finisher in the under 23 World Championship road race in Quatar, and had previously ridden for Drapac Professional Cycling.

A popular rider among his peers, Lowndes’s death prompted touching tributes from around the world of professional cycling, with Israel Cycling Academy saying that “His constant broad smile, ever cheerful personality, and warm heart will be terribly missed forever by all of us”, while Ryan Mullen said that he had “lost a great friend and even better drinking partner today. Truly lost for words.”

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