The drag-racing escapade that saw three drivers paying fines on Friday had taken place after one challenged the other about his car’s top speed.
But the third man involved in the race was not even present when the challenge was issued.
Having heard about the race soon after it had started, he set off to catch up with the duo — out to prove whose vehicle packed more punch under the hood.
And in their sprint from Massey’s Store in Arnos Vale to the Sion Hill intersection and back, they overtook “every object, every vehicle, everything they met on the road,” Station Sergeant of Police Pernel Browne told the court on Friday.
But a video of the event, recorded by a passenger in one of the vehicles, which he later handed over police, landed the trio in court on reckless driving charges that saw them paying fines to avoid jail time.
However, as far as their need for speed is concerned, that will have to be fulfilled vicariously for some time, as their driver’s licences have been suspended.
On Friday, at the Serious Offences Court in Kingstown, T.J. Deane, 21, of Prospect, Javon Jardine, 23, of Mt Pleasant, and J-Lani Douglas, 25, of Rockies, each pleaded guilty to a charge that on April 11, along the Arnos Vale Public Road, they drove their vehicles recklessly.
Deane, the driver of PK417, was fined $1,200 to be paid forthwith or serve 12 weeks in prison. He was also disqualified from driving for three months.
Jardine, the driver of PV918, was fined $1,200 to be paid forthwith or serve 12 weeks in prison. He was also disqualified from driving for four months.
Douglas, the driver of motor vehicle P4621, was fined $1,550 to be paid forthwith in lieu of 15 weeks in prison. He was also disqualified from driving for one year.
Deane and Douglas pleaded guilty immediately, but when Jardine was called to the stand, his lawyer, Grant Connell, who also represented Douglas, asked for disclosure before his client entered a plea.
However, the chief magistrate told the lawyer that that is not how the procedure works.
Jardine pleaded not guilty and Connell made an application for disclosure, which the chief magistrate ordered be made within one week and adjourned the matter to April 27.
However, Connell later asked that the charge be put to Jardine again.
Jardine then changed his plea to guilty.
In presenting the fact, Station Sergeant Browne told the court that about 7 p.m. on April 11, Jardine and Douglas were outside Massy Store, where an argument developed about whose vehicle was faster.
To settle the debate, the men decided to do a test from the store to Sion Hill and back
Sometime after they set out, Deane arrived from where Jardine and Douglas had set out on their race and was told of the contention.
So he set off in an attempt to catch up with the other two.
Deane had a passenger, Travel Cain, in the front passenger seat of his vehicle.
That passenger began recording as soon as Deane had caught up with Jardine and Douglas and continued doing so until the end of the race.
Officer Browne told the court that the vehicles made their way from Arnos Vale to Sion Hill and back, overtaking very other vehicle they met on the road.
The incident was brought to the attention of the police who launched an investigation.
The police were able to identify the drivers of the three vehicles as well as the Cain.
Officer Browne said that Cain willingly gave the police his cell phone to view the video that he had recorded.
A police IT specialist copied the video to a DVD and Cain and the officer signed it as evidence.
Charges were brought against the three drivers.
Station Sergeant Browne then made an application for the video to be played in court and this was done.
The officer told the court that section 48 of the traffic law says that any person who drives a motor vehicle on a road recklessly or at a speed or in a manner dangerous to the public, having regard to the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use and the amount of traffic on the road at the time or likely to be on the road on the time is liable to a fine of up to EC$2,500 or six months in jail.
Subsection of that same law said that cases where the driver has convictions under that same section, his licence can be suspended for up to two years in the second instance, and on a third conviction, his licence can be suspended permanently.
He asked, in the case of Douglas, that the court consider these options.
However, at this point, Connell rose and told the court that Douglas has six traffic convictions, three of which had been brought against him by Officer Brown.
“But any for reckless driving?” the lawyer asked, adding that the officer clearly knows Douglas.
Connell, however, said that the law is clear.
The chief magistrate commented: “Yes. Be that as it may, he has a terrible record.”
In mitigation, Connell noted that Douglas is a former van driver who “seems to have a record – six convictions”, adding that none of them were of a similar nature.
The lawyer said that Douglas had initially said he was going home to Rockies when the challenge started.
The lawyer said that seeing the deer-in-the-headlights look on Deane’s face he would also say a word in mitigation on his behalf.
The lawyer said that what the men did was reckless.
He said that they lived to tell the tale and were extremely remorseful for their action and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
“What they did was wrong; a stupid act on their part, one that they regret. It’s not a hanging offence. No blood was run. They didn’t disrespect any woman — take from that which they cannot give back. The flesh is weak,” the lawyer said, adding that he is not so versed in the Bible “like others who quote verses from time to time”.
Connell said that Deane was once a van driver and had had several run-ins with the law, as most van drivers do, but is now unemployed. Douglas has two children for whom he is the main provider, the lawyer said.
He said that Jardine works with a distribution company as a driver and had never had a ticket while driving for that establishment.
The lawyer asked that the court not impose a custodial sentence but a fine instead.
He further asked the court not to suspend the men’s driver’s permits.
Connell said that he knows that the offence is a serious one, but that with COVID-19, the country is in uncharted waters, where “every little matters”.
He said that if disqualified from driving, Jardine would lose his job.
The lawyer said he was at the National Insurance Services recently and “saw a line of people going to collect their $75 by which the government is trying to help”.
He asked the court not to take the job of a man who is gainfully employed.