A man was thrown from his motorcycle into a steel pole and off an 8m embankment after he and a friend sped and wove through Melbourne traffic for over 15 kilometres.
The pair reached over double the speed limit and egged each other on with wheel stands and dangerous riding before George Kodogiorgos died, aged 32 at the Burnley Tunnel.
His friend Martin Durkan, 51, appeared in the County Court of Victoria on Wednesday after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death.
Video footage released by the court on Wednesday shows the high-octane moments leading up to Kodogiorgos’ tragic death.
The footage shows the pair weaving and overtaking traffic, moving apart and then together again, before they attempt to take the bend of the exit into Burnley Tunnel just past 10pm on July 15, 2018.
RACE ENDS IN DEATH
Durkan, Kodogiorgos and a group of other motorcycle enthusiasts went to Lazy Moe’s restaurant in Tullamarine before riding into the city on a cold and windy night.
Durkan and Kodogiorgos — both on Honda CBR1000 Fireblades, one black and one red — pulled ahead.
They wove between traffic, took turns accelerating before dropping back and performing wheel stands on public roads, reaching up to 166 km/h.
They dropped back to 100 km/h to take the left bend that leads into the Burnley Tunnel about 10pm.
Durkan made it and Kodogiorgos collided with a concrete barrier, was thrown into a steel pole and then off the embankment, and died at the scene.
The court heard Durkan continued riding at double the speed limit to a Chapel Street restaurant.
He told the others he didn’t know what had happened to Kodogiorgos, they later told police.
“Maybe he got lost, had an accident, I’m not sure,” the court heard he said.
He was arrested on July 17.
‘A BEAUTIFUL SOUL WITH A PURE HEART’
The court heard a victim impact statement written by George’s mother Penny Kodogiorgos on behalf of the family.
She said George was “finally, in the prime of his life” when he got on the motorcycle that night.
He had recovered from a debilitating illness that had plagued him for most of adulthood, and left behind a mother, father and sister with broken hearts.
“George, our son, was a beautiful soul with a pure heart,” she said.
“His health was in remission, and before his passing he had bought a house — as parents, we could not be prouder.”
When he left her house that night, his mother’s last words to him were, “George, be careful”.
“I never imagined those were the last words I would say to my son,” she said.
“I have not gone into his bedroom yet, nor do we use that side of the house.
“My grief is unbearable.”
‘TRANSFORMED INTO A DIFFERENT PERSON’
The “empathetic” scientist who dedicated his life to helping others bore little resemblance to the “lunatic” on the bike, Judge Fiona Hampel said.
Durkan volunteered at the Blacktown Youth Services Association before getting a science degree as a mature aged student.
He worked on projects including eradicating dengue fever from northern Queensland and driving out invasive species, and volunteered his time on important research while studying, the court heard.
The former Dean of Science at Monash University Scott O’Neill was among those who submitted glowing character references for Durkan to the court.
But the man in the references bore an “extraordinary disconnect” to the motorcycle rider who was involved in a man’s death, Judge Felicity Hampel said.
“(It’s as if) when he got on a bike he’s just transformed into a different person,” she said.
“A man of mature years with this background and history and deep sense of social commitment.
“And yet his driving on the night is shockingly irresponsible.
“This wasn’t a moment of madness, this was 15 kilometres.”
Durkan told the court he would bear the guilt of Kodogiorgos’ death forever.
“I’m not only ashamed and regretful of those choices, but not a day passes that I don’t wish that I could go back and change what happened to George,” he said.
Durkan will be sentenced at a later date.
Originally published as ’Lunatic’: Fatal street race caught on CCTV