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Speaking out on dangerous driving

HEATHER-LYNN EVANSON, [email protected]

Speaking out on dangerous driving

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The new Speaker of the House of Assembly, Arthur Holder, found himself fielding a request Thursday and it wasn’t from a parliamentarian.

It came from Principal Crown Counsel Alliston Seale, who has urged the Speaker to push for legislation in the House to deal with the “gulf” between a death by dangerous driving charge and the count of dangerous driving. Death by dangerous driving carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison, while dangerous driving has a maximum fine of $1 000.

Holder was back in his role of defence attorney in the No. 2 Supreme Court, where he was representing Kemar Rico Jordan, a 29-year-old watersports operator of Chapel Gap, Paynes Bay, St James, who had pleaded guilty, at an earlier Session of the Continuous Sittings, to dangerous driving after he was initially arraigned and had denied causing the death of his girlfriend Adrianna Sobers, on April 3, 2015, by driving his motorbike on Black Rock Main Road in a manner dangerous to the public.

Seale, who prosecuted the matter and was making submissions on sentence, explained that dangerous driving was technically not a lesser count to death by dangerous driving.

“I would hope that my learned friend being in that place now, that legislation is created now that would move swiftly to deal with these issues so that something like causing death by dangerous driving can have a lesser count where any punishment can be meaningful,” he told Justice Michelle Weekes.

“I think the gulf between the two is so great that we move from an offence that carries a ten-year sentence basically to an offence which carries the maximum of a $1 000 fine,” the prosecutor noted.

He submitted there should be a middle ground offence where the circumstances of a fatal accident did not reach the threshold required for imprisonment “but yet cannot be trivialised to the extent that a person’s life is gone, but you could only go to $1 000 because the alternative is imprisonment”.

“If we are supposed to accept this lesser count of simple dangerous driving, what does it say about the death?” Seale asked.

He noted accepting dangerous driving as a lesser count to death by dangerous driving was a “convention I came and found”.

“This needs treating to so that persons can plead to an offence, maybe lesser than causing death, but still the death is a fundamental part of the legislation. So at least we know that it is a lesser count, but nonetheless it involves a greater punishment that the $1 000 (fine) that is available for the simple dangerous driving.

“So I am hoping that my learned friend who has had experience . . . and I think he is aptly qualified and has had the experience and knows what goes on here so when we talk about the future that he may be able to assist,” Seale said. (HLE)