September 21, 2020

Survivor of fatal crash wins legal judgment [Cayman Islands employee]


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By Owain Johnston-Barnes From Royal Gazette

A woman who broke her neck in a fatal car crash has secured a legal victory against a truck driver after he failed to attend court.

According to a ruling in chambers by Puisne Judge Stephen Hellman, Evelyn Rewan was awarded a default judgment in a civil suit against Luke Armstrong in relation to injuries suffered in a crash that killed Winston “Yogi” Burrows, 44, in a fireball eight years ago.

, 32, an English expatriate, has left the island and efforts to locate him have failed.

Notices were published in the Cayman Islands — where it was believed he had lived — intended to inform him of the summons.

Last September, after The Royal Gazette ran an article about the search for Mr Armstrong, his Facebook page was amended to say that he was living in Timbuctoo, Mali, although his profile picture highlighted a 2014 photograph from Little Cayman.

His LinkedIn profile stated that he had been working in Singapore after spending time in Cyprus.

Yesterday, Mr Armstrong’s Facebook page did not state his whereabouts.

Meanwhile, ’s case against , the former employer of Mr Armstrong and owner of the vehicle he was driving, has been allowed to move forward despite strikeout applications to the contrary.

In April 2009, Ms Rewan was one of two passengers in a car driven by which crashed with a heavy truck driven by Mr Armstrong.

While Ms Rewan survived with a broken neck and multiple fractures, Mr Burrows was killed when the damaged car burst into flames.

Mr Armstrong left the scene, as did another non-Bermudian man who was travelling in the truck, and later admitted he had drunk four or five beers, but no evidence about any breath test result was shared with the Supreme Court jury. Mr Burrows had a paralysed hand, had cocaine in his system and was more than twice the drink-drive limit.

Mr Armstrong was jailed in November 2009 after being convicted by a jury of one count of causing death by dangerous driving and two counts of causing injury by dangerous driving and driving without the appropriate licence — the vehicle which he had been driving was a Ford Ranger truck which requires a heavy truck licence but he did not have one.

However, he was acquitted of the more serious offences on appeal four months later, after prosecutors conceded judge Norma Wade-Miller did not properly direct the jury on how to weigh up the evidence.

Last year, Ms Rewan launched a civil case against both Mr Armstrong and Air Care Ltd seeking to recover damages for personal injuries and consequential loss on the grounds that both parties acted negligently.

According to the ruling, dated February 24, Mr Armstrong failed to attend the January 18 hearing and was not represented in court. Air Care, meanwhile, sought for the case to be struck out on the grounds that the claims were “scandalous, frivolous, and/or vexatious”.

While counsel for Ms Rewan noted affidavits alleging that Mr Armstrong was drinking with “the boss” prior to the collision, lawyers for Air Care said the claims were refuted by records that showed the senior employee named in the affidavits flew to the UK on the evening of the crash.

Mr Justice Hellman found that the claim was “wholly implausible” given the evidence before the court, describing the affidavit as “simply not credible”.

However, the judge found that there was an arguable case that Mr Armstrong was driving the vehicle with Air Care’s permission and that Mr Armstrong’s negligence may have contributed to the fatal crash.

“If the plaintiff wishes to amend her pleadings to make the allegation more clearly, she has liberty to do so,” he wrote. “To that extent, the defendant’s application to strike out the appellant’s allegations that the defendant was negligent is disallowed.

“The defendant’s application to strike out the remainder of the plaintiff’s allegations that the defendant was negligent is allowed and those allegations are ordered to be struck out.”

IMAGE: Evelyn Rewan

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