Prosecutor calls for reform of death by dangerous driving law
A lead prosecutor is calling for the reform of legislation where a person charged with causing death by dangerous driving but pleads guilty instead to the lesser count of dangerous driving, moves from a penalty of 10 years imprisonment to a lesser punishment of $1000.
This call to address the disparity came from Principal Crown Counsel Alliston Seale as he gave submissions in the case of Kemar Rico Jordan.
Jordan, 26, of No. 1 Chapel Gap, Paynes Bay, St James was initially charged with causing the death of his girlfriend Adrianna Sobers on April 3, 2015 by dangerous driving by riding a motorcycle on Black Rock road at a speed and in a manner dangerous to the public.
He, however, pleaded to the lesser count of dangerous driving. A plea the Crown accepted.
Lawyer and Speaker of the House, Arthur Holder, represented Jordan in the matter and Seale called on Arthur to utilise his political role to address the issue.
Seale urged Holder to move swiftly to deal with this issue so that the offence of “causing death by dangerous driving can have a lesser count” with “meaningful punishment”.
“The gulf between the two is so great that we move from an offence which carries a ten-year sentence basically to an offence which carried the maximum of $1000. There must be circumstances between the two that the offence may not reach the threshold requiring imprisonment at all but yet cannot be trivialised to the extent that a person’s life is gone but it could only go to a $1000 because the alternative is imprisonment,” Seale charged.
He said in the absence of proper legislation under the Road Traffic Act the move was from a very serious penalty to accepting simple dangerous driving where the penalties are much less.
The representative from the Director of Public Prosecutions Office said Holder in his capacity was aptly qualified in court to assist with legislation.
He then recalled accepting a dangerous driving plea and, in an attempt, to address the facts of the death, he the defence challenged him. The counsel said that as he had accepted the lesser plea and could not address the death.
He admitted the counsel had a point.
“If we are supposed to accept this lesser charge of simple dangerous driving what does it say about the death?”
The legislation, he said, needed reform “so that a person can plead to an offence maybe lesser than the causing death but still the death be a fundamental part of piece of legislation, so at least we know that it is a lesser count but none the less it involves a greater punishment than the $1000”
“Dangerous driving is the ordinary man going down the road driving recklessly, he may not have killed anybody or caused injury all he has done is departed from the standard of driving required of the ordinary prudent driver”
“There should be some distinguishing feature between causing death by dangerous driving at one end and simple dangerous driving at the other end when we accept that as a plea where someone has obviously lost his/her life”