Leross Burnett, who caused a pile up on the Barrow section of the ABC Highway last month, today told motorists he was sorry for his actions.
But neither his apology nor his explanation was enough to convince a magistrate not to impose fines on him or strip him of his licence for half a year.
According to evidence presented by police in the District ‘A’ Traffic Court today, Burnett, a resident of No. 114 Wanstead Gardens, St Michael, had damaged several vehicles while reversing his car in an attempt to evade capture by police on September 20.
“I would like to apologise to the motorists on the road that morning, seeing that it was a dangerous matter [not only] for other motorists but myself as well, pedestrians, and more so the persons that were injured,” the traffic offender said before he was slapped with $1,600 in fines and disqualified from driving for the next six months.
The 30-year-old’s apology came after Traffic Magistrate Granveney Bannister told him that his version of what occurred on that day did “not add up”.
In fact, he described Burnett’s testimony as “a concoction” after hearing evidence from him and Sergeant Ian Maynard who was one of the lawmen on the scene that day.
Maynard said officers were on patrol around 10 a.m., in a marked police vehicle, when they received information that the driver of a silver BMW was wanted in connection with several matters under investigation. The vehicle was travelling along the ABC Highway going in the direction of Hothersal at the time. On reaching the roundabout in Hothersal, police exited their vehicle and approached the car which was in the right lane. However, the driver reversed and collided with three motorcars behind his
Sergeant Burnett said the car then moved to the left lane, in which a small white truck, towing a trailer carrying a concrete mixer, was also travelling.
“The white truck swerved to the left to avoid collision with the BMW. However, the right front of the white truck struck the motorcar. The BMW stopped about 15 feet away in the middle of the two lanes facing Warrens. The driver started to climb through the front right window and he was arrested,” the officer said.
However, Burnett maintained that he was not trying to evade police that day. He said he was driving on the highway at about 60 kilometres per hour and had just engaged the cruise control when he saw a white Suzuki Vitara and felt an impact which caused him to turn around. However, he said, the brakes would not work as he had engaged the cruise control. It was at that time, he said, that he realised a car was chasing him.
Burnett, who was represented by attorney-at-law Shadia Simpson, went on to say that it was only after he was taken to the police station that he became aware he had damaged three vehicles and that two people were injured.
He admitted, however, during cross-examination by prosecutor Sergeant Kevin Forde that the damage to the other vehicles was caused because he was driving in the wrong direction.
“I do not believe anything that the accused has said to this court. The accused is not a truthful witness in my opinion. He is economical with the truth,” Magistrate Bannister said as he handed down his ruling on Burnett who had previously pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention; driving in a manner dangerous to the public; and driving without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road.
“There is nothing to disturb the guilty pleas as far as I am concerned. I am of the view that what the accused said is a concoction. You are telling me that you struck three vehicles on a highway and you do not know that you struck three vehicles.”
Burnett was sentenced after mitigation by his attorney. He was slapped with a $700 forthwith fine or 70 days at Dodds in default, for driving in a manner dangerous to the public. He was also disqualified from driving all types of vehicles. If he breaches the order he will spend three months in prison. Burnett was also ordered to hand over his driver’s licence to the court by tomorrow.
On the charge of driving without due care and attention, he was fined $450 forthwith or 45 days in prison to run concurrently. That same sentence was also imposed on him for the offence of driving without reasonable consideration for other roads users.
By the end of the day’s sitting no one had come forward to pay the fines on Burnett’s behalf and he was taken to Her Majesty’s Prison Dodds.