'I’m going to have to live with this'
Gitta Scheenhouwer's dream of becoming an architect in Melbourne was coming true and she was planning a bright future in which "nothing seemed too crazy".
But the young Dutch woman's limitless ambitions and zest for life were shattered when, while cycling to work, she was struck by Michael Panayides, a speeding driver on his way to buy drugs last August.
Ms Scheenhouwer, 27, had just moved to Melbourne with her boyfriend Thomas Kleinegris and was eagerly awaiting a visit from her younger sister Babs in a few weeks.
Instead, her parents, siblings and boyfriend travelled to Melbourne for a pre-sentence hearing for Panayides on Wednesday, spending the day in court sharing memories of life with Ms Scheenhouwer and the pain of life without her sunshine.
"She was a girl who had so many positive vibes and energies. Our memories are now my memories," best friend Doortje Kok said.
Judge Michael McInerney asked for a photo of Ms Scheenhouwer and revealed it was hard not to be overwhelmed with emotion hearing about the young woman, described as having a lust for life.
He praised their sharing of lovely memories and not thoughts of revenge for Panayides, 28, who formally admitted culpable driving causing Ms Scheenhouwer's death in August last year.
Panayides was driving a stolen Mercedes and had been spotted swaying as he walked into a McDonald's in the CBD - telling police later he'd used heroin "yesterday, the day before".
He was spotted driving down tram lines in Bourke Street Mall and into the tram-only block of Swanston Street, narrowly missing at least three trams as he headed toward South Yarra.
In Chapel Street he sped up from 69km/h to 80km/h - double the speed limit - and swerved into the cycle lane while trying to undertake a car. He struck that car, rolled his and Ms Scheenhouwer was caught in the carnage. She died at the scene.
"I'm going to have to live with this," he told witnesses who tried to get him to stay, but he left the scene and was arrested after photos shared publicly identified him two days later.
Panayides told police he believed the crash was an accident, caused by him knocking a lever near the steering wheel forcing the car to speed up - a claim not supported by technical reports.
Judge Michael McInerney described Panayides' attempt to pass the car in front as a "totally pointless exercise", expecting he could not have done it even if Ms Scheenhouwer was not in the cycle lane.
The hearing is set to continue on Thursday.