Driver who hit triathlete avoids detention

A driver who struck triathlete Mark Scott, leaving him with life-changing brain injuries, has avoided home detention over the offence, after successfully appealing his sentence yesterday.

Shell Cove father Martin Gerald English was sentenced to six months home detention last month but the decision was stayed pending yesterday's severity appeal in Wollongong District Court.

Ordering the 51-year-old to serve a nine-month suspended jail term, Judge Paul Conlon said English must have paid significant inattention to the road not to have seen the cyclist.

"[It has been indicated] to the court that because of a momentary inattention, [English] simply did not, at any point, see the cyclist ... In my view, this must have been a significant inattention," Judge Conlon said. "All too often people lose their lives or suffer serious injury and the perpetrators merely want to say it was all bad luck ... It is never bad luck, it is just poor driving ...

"The mere fact it was a momentary inattention doesn't reduce the seriousness of what happened and the consequences."

English, who pleaded guilty to negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, was driving through Primbee with his young daughter on June 18 last year when his car struck Mr Scott, sending him tumbling over the top of the vehicle like a "rag doll".

The Tarrawanna cyclist had been on a recovery ride with his father, Bob Scott, when English's car struck him, leaving the 28-year-old with serious head trauma.

Just minutes after the accident, English told police the sun had been in his eyes and he had simply not seen the cyclists.

Defence barrister Jane Healey yesterday told the court English had experienced a momentary lapse of attention. She said her client had not driven dangerously but had been simply blinded by the sun and had not had time to put his hands up to block the glare or flick down his visor.

Arguing for a suspended sentence, Ms Healey said home detention would result in English losing his job and his home.

She told the court her client was deeply remorseful, had an unblemished traffic record and was a person of prior good character.

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