A High Court judge has ordered an unlicensed driver to pay EC$30,000 in compensation to the family of a woman whose death he caused while driving recklessly without a driver’s permit
Justice Angelica Teelucksingh further imposed a prison sentence of two years and one month, on the man, Lorenzo Mc Lean, aka “Scougie”, 27, but suspended it for three years.
If during the three years of the suspended sentence McLean commits any offence punishable by six months imprisonment or more, he will immediately serve a term of imprisonment of two years and one month for causing the death of the woman, Josephine Robertson
He is to pay the EC$30,000 in compensation to Shaphanique Robertson, the daughter of the deceased, within six months of last Friday’s date, July 1.
Further, for driving without being the holder of a driver’s permit, the judge ordered Mc Lean to pay a fine of EC$2,500 within one week, and also ordered him to pay a fine of EC$5,000 within two weeks for driving an uninsured vehicle.
If he fails to pay the compensation and fines, he is to be brought back to court for sentencing.
Mc Lean was arraigned and pleaded guilty on Jan. 19, to three charges and was granted bail.
According to the facts, presented by the judge, in 2019, Mc Lean was employed by Ronald St. Hillaire to work in his garage at Diamond.
On Oct. 15, 2019, Mc Lean took without permission the key to St. Hillaire’s jeep, P5829.
About midday, Robertson, a roast corn vendor, was selling roast corn near the side of Stubbs main road.
She left and crossed the road to pick some soursop leaves.
Mc Lean was seen speeding the vehicle from the direction of Stubbs Clinic to the Diamond area.
The vehicle was heard revving as he drove past a corner near to where Robertson was.
The vehicle spun to the right side of the road and Mc Lean attempted to manoeuvre it back to the left side of the road.
He lost control of the vehicle and it spun in the direction of where Enrique France was sitting and the deceased was standing.
It struck France then the deceased, resulting in both of them falling over an embankment.
The vehicle continued to move then stopped near a wooden house.
After the vehicle stopped, Mc Lean exited and reported the incident to the Stubbs Police Station.
Robertson’s body was taken to the Stubbs Clinic, where a doctor pronounced her dead around 1:20 p.m.
Corporal of Police 91 Josephine Andrews, other police officers and Mc Lean visited the scene of the incident.
Police Constable 116 Bascombe observed that the left front tyre of the vehicle was blown out and the front grill broken.
The police examined the vehicle and found that the lights, steering and brake were in good working condition.
Under caution, Mc Lean told Andrews:
“Me come up from dey in third, try pull ah fourth did not get a fourth. So me push back in third. When me let go the clutch the back wheel burn out and the vehicle spin and head over the bank down in the corner. When the vehicle head for over the bank, the lady was standing there and the vehicle hit she and I try pull away from she and the vehicle struck she and went over the bank.”
A post mortem concluded that Robertson died of trauma to the chest as a result of a motor vehicle accident.
On Oct. 17, 2019, police conducted an electronic interview with Mc Lean, in which he told them that he lost control of the vehicle for reasons unknown.
He said he hit the sidewalk where there were about six individuals and at that point he could not control the vehicle anymore.
Mc Lean said almost everyone ran but he was not sure if he had hit anyone or anything.
He said that when the vehicle stopped and he exited, he looked for his phone and when he found it he went to the road.
He said he saw Robertson, who appeared to be dead.
Mc Leacn admitted that he did not have a driving permit but was driving for four to five weeks.
In the interview with police, Mc Lean also admitted to taking the key without the owner’s permission and using the vehicle to go buy lunch.
He said he was travelling from Stubbs to Diamond when the incident occurred and had been driving for about seven weeks before the incident.
In handing down her sentence, Justice Teelucksingh noted the aims of sentencing, namely, retribution, deterrence, prevention, and rehabilitation.
She said that the defence had submitted that Mc Lean had showed genuine remorse and the court noted that on May 20, when the mother of the deceased appeared via Zoom, Mc Lean said, under oath:
“I wish to express my sincere feelings towards her. I am very sorry for everything that was happening but at the moment I could not express my feelings because there were a lot of threats and confrontation…
“I get to understand the problems she is going through. I don’t mind if I have to compensate anyone for their troubles. I am truly sorry for everything that has happened. If there is a way to make it right, I will do my best.”
Justice Teelucksingh said that the court agreed that McLean had shown genuine remorse, apologised and made a tangible offer to pay compensation.
She noted that both the defence and prosecution agreed that a suspended sentence was appropriate
The judge said that the court was of the view that the sentence should not exceed three years, and that a suspended sentence was appropriate as it relates to causing Robertson’s death by driving recklessly.
Mc Lean could have been sentenced to a maximum of seven years in prison for the offence.
The judge adopted a starting point of 35% of the maximum — or two years and four months.
The aggravating feature of the offence were the prevalence of the offence, the fact that other offences were committed at the same time, in that Mc Lean did not have a valid driver’s licence and that he was driving without insurance; he knowingly put more than one person at risk of death or injury; and his behaviour was irresponsible, he having taken the vehicle without the consent or knowledge of the owner.
Justice Teelucksingh, therefore, increased the sentence by three years.
There were no mitigating features of the offence. There were also no aggravating features of the offender.
The mitigating features of the offence were that Mc Lean is of good character, having no previous convictions; he had been positively described by members of his family, friends, and member of the community; he expressed genuine remorse in open court; he has potential for rehabilitation; his relative youth and lack of maturity – being about 25 at the time of the incident; and assisted and cooperated with the police.
As a result of this, the sentence was reduced by two years.
The judge noted that Mc Lean pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and was entitled to the full one-third discount, which took the sentence to two years, one month.
Stephen Williams and Art Williams, represented Mc Lean and Rene Simmons represented the Crown in the matter.