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‘I miss my girl’: Dutch cyclist living the dream before Chapel St hit-run

Ms Scheenhouwer, 27, was pinned between the Mercedes-Benz and a parked car and died at the scene.

One of the passengers in the Lancer, an 81-year-old grandmother, suffered bruising across her body and died from a stroke four months later. Her family blames the crash.

Panayides then ran off with a paper bag and a backpack he grabbed from the car, prosecutor Mark Rochford, QC, said.

Police block off Chapel Street after the hit-run.

Police block off Chapel Street after the hit-run.Credit:AAP

Mr Kleinegris has since returned to the Netherlands but is visiting Melbourne with his girlfriend’s family to tell the court of the impact of her death.

He said he once had a bright future with Ms Scheenhouwer and that one of their favourite things was celebrating the 17th of each month, to mark the day they became a couple.

Now, he said, he had lost his positivity and ambition and life without his best friend was a listless, lonely struggle every day. On the 17th day of every month he feels nauseous.

“Not only has Gitta been taken away from everyone, the best part of me has been torn away,” Mr Kleinegris said.

Michael Panayides arrives at the Melbourne Magistrates Court before a hearing last year.

Michael Panayides arrives at the Melbourne Magistrates Court before a hearing last year. Credit:Nine

“I miss my girl, my buddy, my darling … I miss Gitta’s endless smile and her positivity, with which she was able to take on the world.”

Ms Scheenhouwer’s mother, Miryam Soonieus, said she no longer felt complete since her daughter’s death.

“I have four children but from now on can only hold three in my arms,” she said.

Gitta Scheenhouwer's mother (far left) and boyfriend Thomas Kleinegris (far right) leave court with other family members on Wednesday.

Gitta Scheenhouwer’s mother (far left) and boyfriend Thomas Kleinegris (far right) leave court with other family members on Wednesday.Credit:Nine

Panayides, 28, has pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing death, failing to render assistance after an accident, theft, unlicensed driving and other charges.

Before the crash he was in central Melbourne, Mr Rochford said, and appeared wobbly on his feet in a McDonald’s. He then drove erratically along the Bourke Street Mall and Swanston Street, which are both off-limits to drivers.

After the crash, two men followed him as he walked from Chapel Street and urged him to go back to confront what he had done.

Panayides told them: “I know, I am going to have to live with this.

“I am going to lose my mother over this.”

CCTV footage shows Panayides trying to squeeze the Mercedes-Benz through a small gap between the Lancer and parked cars as he accelerated from 69km/h to 80km/h in the moments before he hit Ms Scheenhouwer.

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Judge Michael McInerney questioned whether the car would have got through the gap even if the cyclist wasn’t there.

Mr Rochford replied: “Totally pointless exercise to try to do it in that way.”

The crash forced the Lancer into a parked car on the other side of the road.

Panayides was arrested the next day when seen in central Melbourne.

Police believe he used heroin the day before the crash but cannot say when.

Panayides had his head down for much of the hearing. His lawyer will address the court on Thursday.

Gitta Scheenhouwer's family last year visited the spot on Chapel Street where she was killed.

Gitta Scheenhouwer’s family last year visited the spot on Chapel Street where she was killed.Credit:David Crossling/Pool

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