Geraldton man accused of hit-and-run faces court again, while cyclist looks at life in wheelchair

Elise Van Aken & Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Steve Zimmermann and his fiancee Leela Klein at Royal Perth Hospital yesterday.
Camera IconSteve Zimmermann and his fiancee Leela Klein at Royal Perth Hospital yesterday. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

The man accused of running down a cyclist — who is looking at life in a wheelchair — and fleeing the scene in Geraldton last week appeared in court again yesterday from WA’s toughest prison.

Paul Stuart Meadowcroft, 50, did not express any emotion but was attentive as the charges were read to him in Geraldton Magistrate’s Court, appearing via video-link from Casuarina Prison.

Police say after a “mix-up” at the Bayly Street-George Road roundabout on April 1 concerning right of way and room to pass, cyclist Steve Zimmermann, 31, remonstrated and repeatedly pulled the middle finger at Mr Meadowcroft, which he saw, prompting him to do a U-turn.

A Police officer with the badly-damaged bike of a man allegedly hit by a car on Bayly Street Beresford.
Camera IconA Police officer with the badly-damaged bike of a man allegedly hit by a car on Bayly Street Beresford. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian, Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian

Mr Meadowcroft made his first court appearance on Saturday, when police prosecutor Sgt Troy Gildersleeve alleged Mr Meadowcroft deliberately veered off the road and hit Mr Zimmermann on the footpath.

Mr Zimmermann suffered a fractured C6 and C7 vertebrae in his neck, damage to his spine, internal injuries, and partial paralysis below the neck.

The matter was adjourned on Saturday so Mr Meadowcroft could seek legal advice.

Legal Aid duty lawyer Lucy Bourne told the court yesterday the accused had not yet received legal counsel and requested the matter be remanded further.

She said no application was being made for bail, to which Magistrate Chris Mioecevich said, it would not have been considered.

Mr Meadowcroft is scheduled to next appear on April 22.

When asked by 7NEWS about the alleged driver from his bed at Royal Perth Hospital on Tuesday, Mr Zimmermann said: “I hope he go to jail for a long, long time and he can’t do this anymore.”

He is doing a bit better but he needs positive support and community around him so that he doesn’t feel alone.

Doctors have told the crayfish factory worker his chances of a full recovery are slim, but Mr Zimmermann says his fiancee Leela Klein is inspiring him to remain positive about the future and he still has hope of walking.

“She’s with me and by my side, she’s so strong,” he said.

“A big thank you to everyone who helped me to this point.”

Ms Klein told the Guardian yesterday Mr Zimmermann continued to undergo scans and was improving each day.

Steve Zimmermann in Royal Perth Hospital after the alleged hit-and-run attack in Geraldton.
Camera IconSteve Zimmermann in Royal Perth Hospital after the alleged hit-and-run attack in Geraldton.

“He is doing a bit better but he needs positive support and community around him so that he doesn’t feel alone,” she said.

“He still doesn’t feel his body downwards from his chest. But we keep positive that he will walk again and be able to dance with me again. He is a very good dancer.”

More than $12,000 has been donated to Mr Zimmermann and Ms Klein to help cover ongoing medical and day-to-day costs.

Geraldton Triathlon Club vice- president and “avid cyclist” Paul Burkinshaw said the tragedy appeared to be an isolated incident, with most Geraldton motorists taking care when driving near cyclists. “I ride probably six or seven days a week and in those seven days a week I rarely have any issues,” he said.

“I do triathlons now on a Sunday with my 12-year-old daughter, she is just getting into it and can be quite slow on the road, the drivers are always really good.”

No stranger to a 4am ride around the Back of Chapman Valley, Mr Burkinshaw said Geraldton residents should not be afraid of enjoying local cycle paths.

“Cycling in Geraldton is very safe, having previously ridden in Perth and busier locations,” he said.

“The community shouldn’t be worried.”

Club president Scott Dennett said he could count on one hand the number of times motorists had made their impatience known while he was riding.

“I have probably had maybe two incidents over the last 15 years of people yelling out the window,” he said.

“I think generally we are pretty lucky here. People are quite content to wait when they need to.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails