Branson George on his way back to prison after his sentencing on Thursday. (iWN photo)

The unlicensed driver who fled the scene after crashing a car into three members of a family, killing one of them, will have to spend a further three years and 10 months in jail.

On May 8, 2016 — Mother’s Day — Branson George, of Old Montrose, who did not have a driver’s permit, borrowed a car from a friend to go from his home village to the neighbouring community of Green Hill and back.

At the sentencing at the High Court on Thursday, Justice Brian Cottle noted that such a journey would only take a few minutes to drive carefully from one point to another.

“The prisoner at the bar did not drive carefully,” Justice Cottle said.

He said that Branson apparently lost control of the vehicle, accelerated suddenly and swerved unto a sidewalk where he struck three pedestrians.

The vehicle then went on to strike a wall at the side of the road before turning 180 degrees, to face the direction from which it had been coming.

The three pedestrians were members of one family.

Karl Roberts died within days of the accident, while his common law-wife Michelle Shearman and their son, Adam Roberts, were injured to the extent that Shearman requires assistance when walking.

After the accident, George fled the scene without helping his victims and pressured his friend to accept responsibility for the accident.

During his trial, he maintained that he was not the driver of the vehicle.

However, the jury did not believe him and returned a guilty verdict on both counts of the indictment, namely, causing death by dangerous driving and driving without a permit.

In mitigation, George told the court: “I would like to compensate the victims.”

He said that he was very sorry for what happened, adding, “putting me in jail … ah can’t compensate them”.

He further told the court that if incarcerated, he won’t be able to “help myself to help them”.

“Ah very sorry for what happen; very sorry,” he said, adding that he looks out for his siblings and provides for their needs. 

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison, while driving without a permit carries a maximum fine of EC$2,500.

The judge, citing the rulings in other cases, noted that one had said that the starting point for death by dangerous driving should be prison.

He said he chose a benchmark of four years.

He said the aggravating features of the case are that George fled the scene without attempting to help those he had injured, did not have a driving permit, tried to pressure his friend to accept responsibility for the accident, and showed no remorse for his actions.

Police investigation showed that George was never the holder of a driver’s permit.

The judge said he found no mitigating features in the case. 

George has previous convictions for wounding and unlawful possession and use of a firearm.

Justice Cottle said this suggests little regard for abiding by established legal norms.

The judge said that it was only after his conviction that George accepted responsibility for the accident, expressed a desire to apologise to his victims, said that the offence was not premeditated and that the brake had failed.

The judge also noted George’s compensation offer, but said that his recent attitude had come far too late in the day to affect the sentence.

He moved upward from the starting point of four years to five years in prison.

George had been in prison since May 16, 2018 and would, therefore, spend a further three years and 10 months in prison.

The judge also disqualified George from holding a driver’s permit for at least five years and ordered him to pay the maximum fine of EC$2,500.

Justice Cottle did not set any timeline for the payment of the fine.

He, however, said if the fine is not paid, George will serve one year in prison, consecutive to the other sentence.

The judge reminded George that he is still a young man and may still wish to make some amends for the harm he has caused.

George did not have a lawyer in the case. Karim Nelson and Rose-Ann Richardson appeared on behalf of the Crown.

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11 Comments

  1. The penalty for causing death with a vehicle is only 7 years so therefore, it is better to knock Aa man down by using the car as a weapon rather than a gun. The laws should be changed to reflect bthe gravity of the situation. The fact that he fled the scene and tried to have someone else take the rap show the kind of person he is. In addition, he was a gunslinger means that he should have faced the maximum penalty allowed under the law. One person is dead and the other is physically challenged to the extent that the individual needs assistance to walk.

    Reply

  2. So how he go jail and the guy who drive his car into the ndp meeting walks free trust mi this small island is very corrupt and if we dont stop these stupidness especially in the justice system you guys wud make st vincent and the grenadines have lots of killings

    Reply

    1. Rawlston Pompey says:

      TESTICULAR FORTITUDE

      In the referenced case at the public meeting, though clearly an accident, there seemingly are inconsistencies in punishment.

      The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), has the power of appeal.

      But only to the extent that he has serious concerns about;

      (i) …The fair administration of justice;

      (ii) …Judicial consistency; and

      (iii) …Possesses ‘…Testicular Fortitude.’

      The ‘DPP’ might just wish to appeal that particular decision.

      Only then that the public and members of the wider society, ‘…may have faith and confidence in the judicial system and its adjudicators.’

      Reply

  3. John I do agree with you that justice was not given to the person who was killed in the Ndp meeting. I agree with you that the the person who committed that act should not walked. It is a situation where the judge departed from legal principles of natural justice and procedural fairness which the conerstone of our judicial process.It’s a situation where the judge wearing two hats simultaneously, one of a judge and a social scientist. He cannot be both.

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  4. So the person in this case died days after the accident this guy is sent to prison. Edgar Cruickshank died on the spot and that guy is given a suspended sentence? No jail time. Nuff said

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  5. Jose, I agree. The sentence is too light. With all the mitigating circumstances it should be at least 10 years in prison. The same justice just let a guy totally off the hook for killing someone with a car. I think the judge really needs remedial training. I think most all other judges, especially Rickie Burnett, are excellent; they should be an example for this judge.
    And to the person commenting named “John”, I think you may have missed something while reading the article.

    Reply

  6. I think the justice system is becoming a big waste of time.when you have people like that still pleing case.the man is darm stopped or confused.look at the two cases the only difference is one plead guilty and the other did not.the one that get off drive true a crowd of hundreds of people.the one that gorne to jail drive on three.this man need terrapy.it seem like his decision is based on mood.so he needs help.

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  7. David Wilson says:

    Comfort and peace to the family for the untimely death of their love one only God knows what you must be going through we pray as Christian that God gave you the strength to face the difficult times a love one life is taken the compensation to the family should be gaven i do hope the family persue this God bless be strong.

    Reply

  8. Dear sir .I sent a comment to this story and l have not seen it.if something is wrong with it.your professional duty is to inform me that something is wrong.it happen before with an open latter to the same subject.pleas be more professional than this. I don’t believe you are as stopped as the subject.

    Reply

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