Drivers to pay deceased’s estate

In an unusual move, Justice Carlisle Greaves has ordered two men who admitted to causing the death of Adrian Hoyte by dangerous driving to pay compensation to the deceased man’s estate or next of kin, rather than a fine that would go into the state-run Treasury.

The judge said the state had been unfair to the deceased and accused Tristan Alleyne, of Society Hill, St, John, and co-accused Kamal Quimby, of Glebe Land, St George, who earlier this month pleaded guilty to causing the death of Hoyte along Valley Land Road, St George on September 4, 2011.

During yesterday’s hearing, it was revealed that the case was indicted six years after the incident and was never filed in the Supreme Court, and that several searches never turned up the files and in the end the prosecutor had to supply the court with copies of his file.

Expressing his frustration at a system which would take 13 years to deal with a matter which “should only take months to deal with”, Justice Greaves said he had no intention of giving the State “one dime” after it had been unfair to both the accused men and the deceased man’s family. The two men were eventually ordered to pay $5 000 each.

The prosecutor, Principal State Counsel Neville Watson, said Alleyne and Quimby were each driving their vehicle in a manner which fell far below “what would be expected of a competent or careful driver”. Further, they did so in an area which was relatively dark and at a speed of 80 to 90 kilometres per hour.

Backlog

Evidence shows that Alleyne saw Hoyte on his bicycle and swerved off of him but his back bumper collided with the bicycle, causing Hoyte to become airborne. When Hoyte fell, Quimby, who was driving behind, struck him.

The judge started sentencing by saying “this case troubles me” and went on to explain that it showed “how unfair a delay in the criminal justice system can be, to both sides”.

The 2011 case was not indicted until October 2017, he said, and had seemingly never been filed in the Supreme Court.

Justice Greaves said the case came to light only after his court decided to examine its backlog and review the status of those cases. Therefore, the accused men never got the opportunity to plead before a judge until March 5, 2024, when

they appeared before him.

There was no file at the time and the clerk was instructed to search for it, but found none. There was none when the matter came up again on March 24, again in May, nor on any of the three adjournments in June. By then, prosecutor Watson offered to make copies from his file and on June 24, when the accused men were arraigned, they pleaded guilty.

“There is nothing reasonable about a case coming to trial 13 years after the event, in a matter such as this. This should have been dealt with within months, if not weeks. These men were 19 and 22 at the time . . . now they’re nearly as old as Methuselah and had this hanging over their heads all that time. What could be reasonable about that?”

Dismissal

Referring to the $5 000 which prosecutor Watson suggested the convicted men be fined, Justice Greaves was in agreement with the amount but took issue with who should get the money.

“The $10 000 they will pay will be going to the State? For what? The State shouldn’t get a dime; not after they have been unfaired like that – both the accused and the family.”

Justice Greaves said that based on the time it took to reach a High Court, the case was one “ripe for dismissal”.

He further referred to the 2023 Needham Point Declaration where the Caribbean Court of Justice suggested alternative methods be sought for sentencing in such matters. Outlining some of the conditions of accused persons’ right to a fair trial, Justice Greaves said “this case is 13 years old and breaches every one of those ideals”.

Defence attorneys Arthur Holder SC and Vincent Watson, who mitigated on their client’s behalf, were tasked with finding out whether the deceased had any children, or which relative would be next in line. Both attorneys also asked that no conviction be recorded against their clients.

Justice Greaves ordered each defendant to pay $5 000 forthwith to the court, to be held and paid to the deceased’s descendants or survivors, or his estate, as the court may order based on submissions on September 27. (SD)

0 Shares:
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like