Jongewaard jailed over hit-and-run

Australian cross country mountain biker Chris Jongewaard will serve at least nine months behind bars following the February 2007 motor vehicle accident that saw former training partner Matthew Rex left with serious injuries. Jongewaard was sentenced today after being found guilty last month of aggravated driving without due care and leaving the scene of an accident.

Judge Wayne Chivell sentenced Jongewaard to two years imprisonment in the South Australian Dirstrict Court on Friday. Judge Chivell declined to suspend the sentence, which includes a non parole period of nine months.

Judge Chivell found Jongewaard guilty of the alternate charge last month, after finding him not guilty of causing serious harm by dangerous driving, the original charge which the four time national champion pled not guilty to.

Jongewaard and Rex had been out celebrating the latter’s 22nd birthday with a group of friends on the night of the accident. The court was told Jongewaard had been speeding and drink-driving when he hit Rex, who was cycling at the time.

When handing down the verdict last month, Judge Chivell said the reckless and dangerous way in which Rex was riding was a substantial cause of the accident, but it did not relieve Jongewaard of his responsibility for causing the injuries. Rex had also been drinking prior to the accident, with witnesses also telling the court earlier in the trial they believed Rex had taken drugs earlier that evening.

Rex was left with a broken back, broken hip, fractured leg, punctured lung, severed arteries and internal bleeding following the accident. Jongewaard was omitted from Australia’s Beijing Olympic Games squad after being charged over the incident.

Cycling Australia announced Jongewaard would face a disciplinary hearing following the guilty verdict. It allowed Jongewaard to start last weekend’s International Cycling Union (UCI) Mountain Bike World Championships in Canberra, for which he had already been nominated.

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