Australian gets 11 years for killing Dutch cyclist in hit-and-run

A 26-year-old Australian man was sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing Dutch Gitta Scheenhouwer in a hit-and-run in Melbourne last year. He will be eligible for early release after serving 8.5 years. The man, Michael Panayides, is also banned from driving a car for 20 years, the court in Melbourne ruled, RTL Nieuws reports.

Scheenhouwer moved to Melbourne with her partner Thomas to start a new life. Both had found good jobs and they were considering starting a family. But on August 12th last year, the 27-year-old Dutch woman was hit by a car while cycling to work. She died at the scene of the accident, despite first responders' frantic attempts to save her live.

Panayides was helped out of the car wreck by bystanders. He fled the scene of the accident on foot. Two men chased him, but he got away. He was arrested by the police two days later. The car he hit Scheenhouwer with was stolen. 

The Australian man was driving 80 kilometers per hour when he hit Scheenhouwer, twice the 40 km/h speed limit. He was on his way to his drug dealer when he lost control of the car, according to RTL. The man's lawyer told the court that Panayides has many psychological problems and was under the influence of heroin at the time of the collision. 

The Melbourne court accused Panayides of "negligent, culpable driving behavior arising from a blatant contempt for the life and safety on others on the road". The judge told the man that his actions left Scheenhouwer's loved ones with "a deep sense of unnecessary loss". 

Panayides was previously convicted of four armed robberies. The judge considers the chance of recidivism great. "Society must be protected against you as much as possible", the judge said.