The minibus driver charged in connection with a vehicle accident back in 2007 at The Garden, St James that claimed the life of Majorie Felicia Boyce has been jailed.
Justice Pamela Beckles today sent a strong signal that dangerous driving, especially by public service vehicle (PSV) drivers, would not be tolerated when she sent Troy Jermaine Stuart, of Bynoe Road, Golf Club Road, Rockley, Christ Church to Dodds for nine months for dangerous driving.
The 45-year-old had been charged with causing Boyce’s death on October 4, 2007 by driving minibus B144 in a manner dangerous to the public. He pleaded not guilty to that charge in 2018 but guilty to the lesser offence of dangerous driving.
However, a one-third discount for the guilty plea reduced that sentence, leaving Stuart to serve a six-month stint at Her Majesty’s Prisons.
“Ma’am I cah get a break?” Stuart, who no longer drives PSVs, asked just after the judge made the ruling. His attorney-at-law Angella Mitchell-Gittens has signalled their intention to appeal.
Boyce has no criminal convictions but accumulated 73 previous traffic offences on his record after becoming a PSV driver in 1993. Forty-three of those were for having excessive passengers and one for driving without due care and attention.
Under the law a driver convicted of a first offence faces a fine of $1,000 or 12 months in prison or both. In the case of a second conviction a fine of $2,500 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years or both could be imposed.
Justice Beckles stated that the court was cognizant there were many convictions for the lesser offence of dangerous driving in the country as opposed to the more serious offence of causing death by dangerous driving.
“This obviously is because of the lighter penalties which the lesser offence attracts. It cannot be that in every case for dangerous driving that a fine will suffice,” she stated.
Moments before Boyce died, B144 driven by Stuart and B37 with Pedro Foster at the wheel were travelling along Highway 1 in the direction of Speightstown. According to a male passenger, the two vehicles were overtaking each other and on reaching The Garden B144 was behind B37. As that vehicle slowed down, Stuart attempted to overtake. At the same time a JCB tractor, E3875, driven by Kenneth Collymore was approaching in the opposite direction carrying a bucket to the front.
According to the facts previously outlined in the No. 5 Supreme Court Stuart reportedly misjudged the distance between B37 and the tractor and had to “pull hard” to his left to avoid a collision. But the minibus struck the right side of the tractor’s bucket causing it to flip and strike a utility pole. Passengers went airborne and as a result Boyce was thrown out of the bus and was found beside the road.
Considering the “tragic circumstances” in which Boyce died the judge pointed to the aggravating factors of the accident.
“You were driving a public service vehicle with passengers. You were speeding. You were attempting to overtake another PSV. . . when it was unsafe to do so. You displayed irresponsible behaviour at the time of the offence – that is, your failure to stop when the driver of the other vehicle put out his hand obviously in an effort to get you to stop in order to avoid this accident. As a result of your dangerous driving a life was lost.
“You have previous convictions for motoring offences and people will say these are not offences of a similar kind. These clearly show your total disregard for the laws enacted to ensure safety on our roads,” said Justice Beckles who also took into consideration some mitigating factors to the offence as well as the offender.
However, she said while the time that had passed between the incident and Stuart’s guilty plea, his “genuine remorse”, apology and request for leniency were all “weighty considerations”, the court was unable to accede to his lawyer’s request for a non-custodial sentence.
“There are aggravating factors which include the seriousness of this offence and the fact that a life was lost. Your numerous traffic violations which suggest a flagrant disregard for the rules on the streets which clearly outweigh the mitigating factors.
“While I consider that a custodial sentence is necessary, I am of the view that a woefully long period of imprisonment is not needed. You appear to have learnt from this accident.
“This punishment is for the act of dangerous driving itself and to deter others from engaging in such behaviour,” she told Stuart.