O’Conner also hit a parked vehicle with such force that it was pushed almost 60 metres. (ABC News)
A Melbourne tradesman who killed a cyclist in a hit-and-run incident in West Footscray has been sentenced to five years in prison for what a judge described as an “inexcusable” offence.
Matthew O’Conner, 28, abandoned his ute and took off his work clothes after fleeing the scene in Barkly Street, West Footscray, on June 23, 2016.
New Zealand-born Peter McGuffie, 54, died after being hit from behind.
O’Conner pleaded guilty earlier this year to one charge of dangerous driving causing death, one charge of failing to stop and render assistance after an accident and two other minor offences.
The court heard another motorist saw O’Conner swerve into the left lane and knock Mr McGuffie the ground.
The self-employed scaffolder’s vehicle also hit a parked vehicle in front with such force it was pushed almost 60 metres.
Judge Peter Wischusen told the court O’Conner’s actions were “wholly inexplicable and quite inexcusable”.
Accused apologises in court
O’Conner read a letter to the court which he tried to send to Mr McGuffie’s family earlier this year.
The family never received it.
“Dear Mr McGuffie’s family, I am writing this letter to apologise,” he said.
“I want you to know how truly sorry I am about the death of Peter McGuffie. I know it can’t bring him back.”
O’Conner said in the letter the collision was an accident.
“I am truly sorry that he won’t be there for birthdays and Christmases. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for you to deal with the grief for the rest of your life,” he told the court.
The court heard a witness followed O’Conner from the scene but was threatened and abused when he tried to stop him.
Judge Wischusen quoted O’Conner’s grandmother, who acknowledged her grandson had a “deplorable” driving record.
The court heard he had a long list of driving offences, including failing to stop at another accident in 2008.
O’Conner was given a non-parole period of three years.
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