No jail for Vic driver over police death

A man has been sentenced for dangerous driving causing death during a "moment of inattention".
A man has been sentenced for dangerous driving causing death during a "moment of inattention".

A bricklayer has broken down crying in court after he was spared jail for killing an off-duty police officer who was cycling with his daughter in Melbourne.

John Cowburn, 61, was sentenced in Victoria's County Court on Wednesday to a three-year community corrections order after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Sergeant Kenneth Rich in April 2017.

The court heard Cowburn hit the 55-year-old, who was cycling with his adult daughter Charlene on the Princes Highway at Pakenham on Good Friday, during a "moment of inattention".

He was likely watching Charlene in his side mirror after she came off her bike in the moments before the crash.

"For some reason, you did not see him until the last moment when your side mirror collided with him," Judge Paul Lacava said.

"You may have been distracted for your concern for Ms Rich."

The judge said he took into account a number of statements provided to the court, including those of Sgt Rich's wife Kerry and five adult children.

"What comes through very clearly is that by your dangerous driving you caused the death of a husband, father, son ... adored by all," Judge Lacava said.

"You will have to live with the consequences for the rest of your life."

He said Cowburn had good prospects of rehabilitation due to his age and lack of criminal history.

Cowburn cried as Judge Lacava told him to exit the dock and sit beside his lawyer.

As part of his sentence, Cowburn cannot drive for 18 months and will have to complete 200 hours of unpaid community work.

Australian Associated Press