The unlicensed driver who crashed an uninsured, unlicensed vehicle into a meeting of the New Democratic Party (NDP) in Clare Valley in December 2014, resulting in the death of a Unity Labour Party (ULP) activist, has escaped jail time.
Because Antwone “Quincy” Anthony, 43, has end-stage kidney failure and requires dialysis, High Court judge, Justice Brian Cottle sentenced him to a two-year suspended prison sentence.
The judge noted that the case is a serious one that deserves prison time but said sending Anthony to prison would be tantamount to a death sentence, since the prison is unsuitable for housing a person with such a medical condition.
Justice Cottle said that Anthony’s medical condition also affects his ability to earn an income, and, by extension, pay a fine.
Anthony, a father of eight children, the youngest of whom is 2 years old, pleaded guilty three weeks earlier to charges that on Dec. 6, 2014, at Clare Valley, he caused the death of Edgar Cruickshank, of Questelles, by driving motor vehicle P119 dangerously.
His sentencing, which took place last week, had been postponed earlier, as he was unable to come to court on the scheduled day, having fallen ill.
In interviews in mid-2014, about 18 months before Vincentians went to the polls, Cruickshank had told iWitness News of his displeasure with the ULP’s selection process is South Leeward, where he had been a major activist for the party.
He later said he had thrown his support behind the NDP’s Nigel “Nature” Stephenson, a candidate and party that he had previously opposed.
Cruickshank, a building contractor, was attending his first meeting of the NDP in years when he met his death.
A pathologist concluded that his death resulted from “multiple traumas with cardiac tamponade due to motor vehicle accident”.
Anthony also pleaded guilty to charges that, on the same date, he fraudulently used the vehicle registration number P7516 on motor vehicle P119.
He also pleaded guilty to charges of driving without a driver’s permit and driving an uninsured vehicle.
Justice Cottle barred Anthony from holding a driver’s licence for the rest of his life.
The man was further ordered to pay the court EC$$1,500 for driving the vehicle without licence; EC$1,500 for driving it without a policy of insurance, and EC$1,000 for using a fraudulent identification mark.
The court, however, did not set any specific date by which the man has to pay the fines.
The fact of the case is that Anthony drove the vehicle recklessly in the area of the hard-court in Clare Valley, where the NDP was having a public meeting.
As a result of his reckless driving, Anthony crashed into a parked vehicle, causing the parked vehicle to fall on persons at the hard-court, injuring several of them and resulting in Cruickshank’s death.
Among the persons injured was Anthony’s 4-year-old son, who was a passenger in the vehicle his father was driving.
Cruickshank died at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where he was taken for medical attention after the accident.
The judge identified the aggravating feature of the case as the fact that, according to the investigation by the police, the vehicle that Anthony was driving was not road worthy.
It had smooth tyres, had no fan belt, no headlights, no insurance, and bore a false number plate.
Anthony was also not the holder of a valid driver’s permit, as his permit had expired several months before the accident, the judge observed.
After the accident, a motor vehicle inspector concluded that the vehicle that Antony was driving had been in an “intrinsically dangerous” condition.
After the accident, Anthony, who lived in Questelles at the time, told police that before driving to Clare Valley he had removed the fan belt from the vehicle, which had been giving him trouble.
The vehicle had shut off as the man was driving home and the steering wheel became stiff and the brake failed.
His efforts to shift the vehicle into a lower gear in an attempt to reduce its speed failed and he later lost control of the vehicle.
The man admitted to police that it had occurred to him that the vehicle was not in any condition to be driven.
In identifying other mitigating factors, Justice Cottle said that the accident had occurred at night.
He said Anthony must have known that a public meeting was being held in the area, as such events are often well publicised.
The judge, however, noted that Anthony had pleaded guilty to the charges and had no previous convictions.