January 27, 2022

Woman initially wrongly charged with dangerous driving gets community service and ban for careless driving after hitting a pedestrian in the Cayman Islands

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29480There is a huge difference between the charge of dangerous driving and the lesser one of careless driving as was outlined in the case of Patrice Leanne Frederick heard in the Cayman Islands Grand Court on November 4th 2014.

Patrice Leanne Frederick on August 6th 2011 drove a Mazda Atenza motor vehicle on the East-West Arterial Bypass, Grand Cayman and hit Annette Diane Andrade who was walking with her friend, Sheena Samantha Bennett.

The day’s weather had been clear and sunny and at the time of the evening it was still light.

The two women were walking in the same direction of the flow of traffic with their backs against it towards Hirst Road. Both were walking on the cycle/unmarked pedestrian lane – with Bennett on the inside and Andrade, on the outside closest to the traffic. Bennett suddenly heard a loud bang and when she looked beside her she could not see her friend. Bennett then looked ahead and saw Andrade in the air and a white Mazda vehicle on the left of the road closest to the cycle lane. Andrade has no recollection of what happened

neither did she hear any warning sounds.

As a result of this accident Andrade sustained life threatening injuries, including a cracked skull, fracture ribs, shoulder and wrist as well as a serious road rash and lacerations.

When the police arrived at the scene they noted relatively minor damage to the

white Mazda vehicle. Frederick had been driving the vehicle and was standing

by the road side when the police arrived. She did not have any visible injuries. When she was asked how the accident occurred she replied:

“Officer I don’t know, I didn’t see anyone, until I heard the bang. I wasn’t looking down.”

She also added, “Officer I don’t know, I don’t know in which lane my vehicle was, I don’t know in which lane the pedestrian was, as I said all I heard was the bang.”

Police Officers conducted a roadside breath test on the Defendant which was negative.

Frederic was using her phone before the accident happened but said she was not using it when the accident occurred.

On 21st March 2012 the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions indicted Frederick for dangerous driving based on the allegation by the investigating police office that she was on the phone at or about the time she hit the pedestrian.

Defence counsel stated that in October 2012 they had informed the Crown the Defendant was prepared to plead guilty to Careless Driving nut not Dangerous Driving. This was rejected by the Crown.

On the 29th January 2014 the Defence renewed its application – continuing that the Defendant was prepared to plead guilty to careless driving and again the Crown stated that they were unable to accept the plea to the lesser charge.

ln or about July 2014 Crown counsel, Ms. Toyin Salako, reviewed the file and, in particular, the time of the calls from the Defendant’s phone and the 911 call, and the Crown was then able to establish that the Defendant was not driving and texting and or calling at the time her car hit Ms. Andrade.

Accordingly, on the 8′” August 2014, the Defendant was re-arraigned on the Indictment. The Defendant pleaded not guilty to Dangerous Driving but guilty to Careless Driving and the Crown advised that this guilty plea to Careless Driving was acceptable.

Justice Quin in sentencing the Defendant, Frederick, said:

“It was initially assumed that the accident was caused because the Defendant was using her mobile telephone at the same time her car hit Ms. Andrade and that is the reason why the Defendant caused the accident. Consequently the Defendant was charged with Dangerous Driving.

However, if the RCIPS investigating officers had conducted a thorough investigation of the times of the 911 calls and compared them to the times of the text messages/phone calls on the Defendant’s mobile phone, they would have realised immediately that the Defendant was not using her phone at the time of the collision. Consequently, the Defendant could have been charged with Careless Driving rather than Dangerous Driving, and this case could have been disposed of two years earlier. In previous cases I have highlighted   the importance of the investigating officers liaising closely with Crown counsel conducting the case on behalf of the DPP. I understand that it was only after Crown counsel, Toyin Salako, took over the conduct of this case this summer that this vital telephone evidence was carefully examined. The Court appreciates that the RCIPS officers have many difficult tasks. However, this delay could have been avoided if the investigating officers and Crown Counsel with conduct of the case had given more careful and consistent attention to the important telephone evidence in the investigation and preparation of this case against the Defendant.”

The Judge gave various relevant case histories and then turned to the Law in the Cayman Islands for CARELESS DRIVING. He said:

“The maximum sentence under s.69 of the Traffic Law (2003 Revision) is a fine of CI$1 ,000.00 or imprisonment for six (6) months and the Court may order that the offender be disqualified from driving for a period not exceeding twelve (12) months. Section69 is now s.77 of the Traffic Law (2011 Revision) but the maximum sentence has not been amended.”

In his conclusion, the Judge said, “As always, it is easy to be wise after the event. Perhaps if there had been a raised footpath on the East-West Arterial Bypass, the accident could have been avoided. The Court can take notice of the fact that in recent years there has been a significant increase in careless and dangerous driving accidents, causing serious injuries to pedestrians, runners and cyclists. It is absolutely imperative that motorists ensure that cyclists, runners and, as in this case, pedestrians, can use the road in the sure knowledge that they will be safe.

“As Defence counsel has stated, this is a tragic accident. The Defendant comes before the Court with an excellent driving record and no previous convictions. She has admitted her guilt and is sincerely remorseful.

“The Crown is not applying for a Compensation Order and I assume that the

Defendant and/or her insurance company are settling the victim’s medical bills. Accordingly, I impose the following sentence:

240 hours of Community Service to be completed   within twelve (12) months from today’s date and at the direction of the Probation Officer;

The Defendant is disqualified from driving for six (6) months.”

EDITOR: We have been asked to highlight the maximum sentence for Careless Driving and we are happy to do so.

IMAGE: www.michiganhumane.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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