Driver gets 10 months jail for fatal crash

| 15/03/2016 | 19 Comments
Cayman News Service

Scene of fatal accident on 15 October 2012

(CNS): Fitzroy Roach was sent to prison Tuesday for ten months in connection with a collision in October 2012 on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway in which taxi driver Beverly Ramsey was killed. Roach was not speeding, using his phone or under the influence of alcohol when the Nissan box truck he was driving veered into the opposite lane and smashed into Ramsey’s minivan, but the court believed he had fallen asleep at the wheel due to lack of sleep.

The visiting Grand Court judge, Justice Alastair Malcolm, found that the collision happened as a result of more than just a momentary lapse in attention and Roach had very likely dozed off after working until the early hours of the morning the night before and then sleeping in the back of his truck.

Roach had denied falling asleep at the wheel, and although there was no direct evidence to confirm that he had, the accident reconstruction reports indicated that Roach had not tried to swerve or brake before the impact, suggesting that he had not noticed that he had drifted across the road, straining into the oncoming path of Ramsey’s taxi.

Roach had pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and the judge gave him a full discount from an original term of 15 months, However, he told the attorneys involved that the case had dragged on for far too long, as it had taken around two years for an expert reconstructionist to be identified and then submit a report.

The judge pointed out the distress cause to the family of Ramsey by the long delay in the case being dealt with. In a victim impact statement Ramsey’s daughter Angelique Howell, a former senior police officer with the RCIPS, had outlined that distress and queried why Roach could not have admitted his culpability much earlier, given what she said was “overwhelming evidence” that the crash was his fault.

Despite the pleadings of his attorney, Denis Brady, to suspend any custodial sentence that the judge may decide on, Justice Malcolm found that the circumstances were aggravated by the fact that Roach, although a man of previous good character, had been driving the Nissan truck with a class 2 licence that did not cover the size of that vehicle. The judge said that, given all of the circumstances, it was inappropriate to suspend the jail term and the sentence should be served.

Roach, who is a Jamaican national on a work permit, had come to Cayman to work in construction. Although he admitted to the charge of careless driving, he had disputed the allegation that he had fallen asleep. He said he had been blinded by headlights and did not realize he was on a collision course for the minivan until the last minute and, despite the accident reports indicating no evasive action was taken, he said he had tried to swerve at the last minute.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Those defending this man are exactly the sort of people that are the reason Cayman has such a high death rate on its roads.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Given the circumstances the sentence is depressingly short. The apologists on this thread are a disgrace and are no doubt the speeding, drink driving type of citizen.

  3. Caymanian says:

    This is just tragic all around. No one here is heinous. Mr Roach was not speeding excessively or under influence. At worst he was tired which shows he was a hard working man possibly pushing himself too hard and his body possibly gave out. At best it is as he stated he was blinded and could not determine if he was still in his lane or if he had crossed.

    I have been on both sides of that fence. There were times when I was heading home in the morning from work after doing an 11pm to 7am shift that I fought sleep tooth and nail. I have also been blinded by oncoming cars where I could not tell where I was exactly and had to find something on the left side of the road away from the lights to guide me.

    I have pulled over and slept in my car only to be woken up by police officers who are thinking I was drunk. I have brought water in the car with me to pour on my head to freshen me up. Some shifts people work, some hours they work is not easy.

    And I know that says a lot but a little to those who are grieving but it’s life out there. We all at times push our limits and most of the time it works out well and everyone makes it home and then there is this time when it just was not in the cards.

    The problem always is you THINK you have it under control all the way until you don’t and generally that’s the point of impact.

    The one thing remains unchanged no matter the outcome. The victim has still passed.

    Mr. Roach will no doubt be changed for life. Any normal human being is scarred for life after taking the life of another human being.

    Pray for the family. Pray for Mr. Roach. Pray for us all.

  4. Sharkey says:

    Was this case tryed by Judge , and not Judge and Jury ? That could explain it .
    But isn’t he subject to civil law suit .

    CNS Note: Roach pleaded guilty to the charge of causing death by careless driving so there was no trial. He was sentenced by a judge based on submissions from both crown and defence regarding the agreed facts, disputed circumstances and sentencing guidelines.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What happened to those hit and run fatalities last year involving civil servants or ex civil servants?.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I believe this guy for some reason.

  7. Anonymous says:

    10 months? For driving a vehicle he was not allowed to drive and for putting greed before the safety of others? A disgrace! 5 years at least. Was that a work truck? If so is his employer being charged with letting him drive illegally?

    • Anonymous says:

      wow! where did you get all of that info? It doesn’t help that he was convicted on pure circumstantial evidence and nothing that directly explains that it was anything other than an accident caused by human error. The Cayman roads, particularly around the roundabouts seem to cause very strange things to happen, particularly to older vehicles etc. Anyway sorry for everyone in this sad saga.

      • Anonymous says:

        Older vehicles are driven by a certain sector of society with less regard to certain laws and basic codes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. Totally preventable fatal accident caused by a string of selfish acts and contempt for the law and safety of others. Hope he is deported the second his sentence finishes.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The irony of this is had Mr. Fitzroy Roach simply fallen asleep and crashed his vehicle into say, a light pole and no one was injured BUT, instead had been found with a marijuana joint in his pocket: He’d have gotten several years in prison !! Isn’t it odd how you can weight a life on one side of the scales and a joint on the other side, and said joint tips the scale over.. Just saying….

    • Anonymous says:

      As you skip the bit that his criminal conduct killed an innocent person.

      • SKEPTICAL says:

        Have you NEVER broken the law when driving – never ever exceeded the speed limit anywhere on the island – get a life.

        • Anonymous says:

          I have never driven a vehicle I am not legally allowed to drive. I have never driven in an unfit state to drive. I have never slewed over into oncoming lanes because I feel asleep at the wheel because I was unfit to drive. People who are so selfish to behave that way and kill innocent people are sinners and cannot expect sympathy for the consequences of their evil ways.

        • Anonymous says:

          If he could not do the time he should not have committed the crime.

        • Jotnar says:

          “get a life” – poor choice of words when this case COST a life – a fact you continue to skip.

    • Anonymous says:

      You people are sick. Yes he may have taken a life but you sit here and act like it was intentional. You act Like he sat in his vehicle and said “Today I’m gonna hit someone and make sure they die.” I’m sure if it wasn’t Angelique Howell’s mother, the outcome would have been different. You all seem to miss the fact that although he may have fell asleep or whatever the case.. SHE was driving over the speed limit. Let’s not be one-track minded because I’m sure he didn’t set out to hurt anyone. All your bickering solves nothing and it sure as hell can’t change the past so STFU!

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