Crash lawyer bailed as judge considers sentence

| 06/07/2016 | 34 Comments
Cayman News Service

Simon Courtney

(CNS): The defence attorney for a corporate lawyer convicted of reckless driving and causing grievous bodily harm urged a judge not to send him to jail Wednesday. Simon Courtney (50), who ploughed into two tourists after a champagne brunch at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman in January 2015, was bailed until Thursday morning, when the judge is expected to deliver his sentence ruling after both crown and defense attorneys offered their comments on the potential punishment on a case with no local legal precedent.

Cathy and Richard Schubert were walking towards Sunshine Suites on their way to dinner when they were mowed down by Courtney, who had lost control of the special edition Ford Mustang he was driving and mounted the pavement.

The Schuberts were both badly injured but Courtney, after a brief moment, left the scene and did not go to the police until some 24 hours after the event.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges but was convicted by a jury following a Grand Court trial.

At Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor Trisha Hutchinson told the judge that, given the circumstances of his conviction, it had passed the custody threshold, but Courtney’s attorney, Laurence Aiolfi of Samson and McGrath, made his case for keeping his client out of jail.

The crown’s senior attorney listed the aggravating factors and the injuries sustained by the couple struck by Courtney’s 633HP sports car after his five-hour brunch, and implied that the level of harm and culpability was such that the judge could consider a sentence in excess of two years, which would pass the point where it could be suspended.

Although Courtney has no previous convictions, the court heard that at the time of the collision he was on bail in connection with another serious driving charge, which was being heard in Summary Court but has still not been completed.

Hutchinson noted that while Courtney had a number of character references before the court, these were related to his professional life and had little bearing on the case. A social enquiry report noted that he was the sole carer for his dependent wife, who has an undisclosed medical problem.

However, Hutchinson pointed out that there are many cases where people facing a prison sentence have family members that are presented with significant challenges as a result, but their suffering is not often considered a reason not to jail an individual where the circumstances justify a prison term.

As Hutchinson made her submissions, Courtney remained still and silent in the dock but his wife was clearly in considerable distress, and it was her plight that Courtney’s attorney focused on heavily when he made his case that his client should not be given a custodial sentence.

Aiolfi said it was not a “straight forward sentencing exercise” because the local guidelines don’t fit with the circumstances of the case, suggesting that the case was one of low culpability, all be it higher harm, given the injuries sustained by the couple.

Although the details of Courtney’s wife’s condition were not detailed, Aiolfi described her as “vulnerable”, unable to work and both financially and emotionally dependent on her husband to help her with what was a “complex” and “rare” but serious medical condition that had deteriorated substantially since his conviction.

He argued that the consequences for Courtney and his wife, for a brief moment of reckless driving, were significant. He pointed out that Courtney, who is on a work permit, could be deported, that he could lose his job and his licence to practice law, but above all he was exceptionally concerned about his wife, suggesting that her life was at risk.

He said that if his client went to jail, she would be forced to leave the island because she cannot work due to her medical condition and is entirely dependent on her husband for her right to remain in Cayman. He said the impact on Courtney’s partner was “disproportionate” and “extreme” when compared with the usual impact others face when loved ones go into custody.

Aiolfi, who claimed his client had showed significant remorse, said he was not drunk at the time of the collision, although he had admitted drinking a little champagne, and he was not driving at excessive speed when he lost control.

There was no premeditation or intent and it therefore did not meet the custody threshold, he argued. But if it did, it was an exceptional case because of his wife’s ill health and the serious problems his incarceration would cause her.

Aiolfi argued that the sentence should be considerably shorter than what had been suggested by the crown and said the judge was able to consider suspending it because there were genuine exceptional circumstances.

Justice Malcolm Swift is expected to deliver his ruling at 9:30 Thursday morning in Court One.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (34)

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  1. anonymous says:

    Crime against property-25 years. Crime against a person’s life and well being- 3 years.

  2. Anonymous says:

    “Justice Swift described Courtney’s claims as a ‘wicked lie’ and his brief expressions of sorrow as disingenuous.”

    A lying lawyer… say it ain’t so… Should have been locked up for 5 years.

  3. Anonymous says:

    He should be sent to jail just for looking like a twat. But then…a lot of us do. So, perhaps we’ll skip that.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sure is a lot of HATE for this white lawyer. Must feel good to hate. Just sayin

  5. Anonymous says:

    The lying rogue is as guilty as sin and should pay for his sins! It is somewhat odd that his wife did not go and look for him after the accident. If it had been my husband I would have had a full search party out there till he was found, dead or alive.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hold 3 years big man. Sit down up North and take a cool off. You been down right shameful with your lack of responsibility.

    Every dog will have their day coming and today is yours.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Guilty boy. These people never take responsibility for their actions!

  8. Not today Bobo says:

    So this is the same vunerable wife that he is so concerned about but ran away from the scene of the acciddent and left her to deal with it. LOCK HIM UP!

  9. Anonymous says:

    “If you do the crime, you do the time.”

  10. whatever says:

    Is there any cheese for all the whine? Prior to this incident, this moronic imbecile already had a serious driving charge to answer – even if, let us speculate, he was not drunk (which most reasonable people do not believe) why would this cretin drive like a maniac and plow over 2 innocent people? You would think that if you already had a pending SERIOUS driving charge against you, that you would drive a little bit more carefully… Or perhaps you would drive a less powerful car if you cannot handle this particular one… But, as proven by the court, at minimum the cretin was reckless. He does not deserve our sympathy. I imagine, and this is only speculation, that Mr. Wonderful thought that he could weasel his way out of the first serious driving charge. I can tell you, if I (as an expat) had a serious driving charge against me in a foreign country, I wouldn’t be spending hours at the Ritz drinking champagne… Looks like he couldn’t weasel his way out of this one. There are plenty others who who have wives and kids at home who depend on them – next time he should think things through better. Let Mr. Wonderful go to jail!

  11. Anonymous says:

    He should go to jail simply because he is guilty.

  12. Watching and Waiting says:

    The people are waiting and watching this verdict. The double standard that is alive and rampant on this island in all sectors and corners is mindboggling with the Caymanians being the sufferers. Aren’t there locals in jail right now for this same offense. The world over and Cayman being no different, money and influence will buy you anything, including a lesser sentence.

  13. Batman says:

    Let’s see how the frat boys deal with their own.

    • Anonymous says:

      My guess is that with no precedent they will follow the recommendations of the lodge members.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is so harsh. Just think if you were at fault? I see sooo many people texting on phones and worry about pedestrians!! What if YOU were a good person and lost control?

      I’m confused about the NO precedent?? We have quite a FEW local politicians that have mowed down people, left the scene of an accident, even caused death by drunk driving and have always gotten away with it?
      Gee, I thought it was a perk of the job in Govt to run innocents off the road and never face court or jail?

      What if YOU had to live with this accident for the rest of your life? This was never intentional so don’t judge. There are no winners or losers in this case, it is simply sad all the way around. If he goes to jail his wife suffers and we tax payers pay the bill.
      I’d like to hear from the victims for the sentencing? I’m christian and think wasting a his life does not equal 3.
      The best justice would be to take away his license to practice and make him stay and serve the community, but not behind bars.

  14. Anonymous says:

    How does his lawyer know whether he was drunk or not? Was he with him during the time he said he was sleeping on the golf course? He ran and hid himself to avoid having to go through a test so to me that smacks of being guilty. And another thing, considering where he worked and the big bucks he must have made over the years his wife can afford to hire personal caregivers while he is in prison unless the both of them spent all their money on booze, which is highly unlikely. Caymanians jailed for drunk driving, causing such harm to others also left their families on the outside while they did their time .who they think they are ?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hope they kept his passport and immigration on top of things…. too many just leave and never suffer consequences

  16. Anonymous says:

    Including Mr. Courtney leaving the scene and other related factors, perhaps the judge should consider The Schubert’s medical condition instead of that of Mrs. Courtney!!

  17. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Courtney must be going without quite a bit of champagne to pay for his lawyer’s pathetic pleadings. Hell Mr. Courtney I would even strongly suggest you sell that 600 HP mussie to help cover your costs. It will be very interesting indeed to see what kind of precedent your sentencing sets for similar offences in this country in future.

  18. Anonymous says:

    A Caymanian making these points would not go to jail. Especially if they happened to find God too.

  19. Anonymous says:

    If he doesn’t go to jail I suggest that the elderly couple ask for a retrial at a higher level. His wife is not important she can go home. Regardless, he loses his job and her lavish life is lost. This doesn’t matter if the custody sentence is 5-100 years. It is not a fair trial because he has money. Most ppl have a responsibility for someone else. Everyone makes choices which they should consider going about their daily life. One is to not drink and drive.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Let the special treatment begin………

  21. Anonymous says:

    Well the jury did the right thing. Now will the judge see through this crap? A little champagne, not speeding, and a financially dependant wife… wow!

  22. Anonymous says:

    He needs to serve jail time this is judicial double standard on display. Wait til he flees the jurisdiction

  23. CGS says:

    Whilst I am sympathetic to Mr. Courtney’s wife plight, there are always consequences to your actions. Sometimes we don’t intend for the results of our actions but we have to take responsibility for our actions, even if it means loss of a job or jail time.

    Surely this woman has other family members who can assist her. Heaven forbid it, but had Mr. Courtney died, what would she have done? Probably packed up her things and moved back “home”.
    Is it inconvenient that her husband might go to jail? Absolutely! That’s just life, things happen, we deal with them and we move forward.

    What justice does Mr. & Mrs. Schubert deserve? Thankfully, neither of them lost their lives but the agony they have gone through, what was supposed to be a happy and memorable vacation, ruined.

    If he just gets a slap on the wrist for this, what message is being sent to others? You can drink and drive, almost kill people, do not readily admit to any wrong doing, tell a fanciful tale to try to get off but even after you are found guilty as long as you say that you are very remorseful and tell the judge that there is a good reason you cannot go to jail, you will be given a suspended sentence?

    We really need to crack down on drunk drivers, speeders, careless drivers here. The punishment must be a deterrent to him and others.

  24. Anonymous says:

    He should absolutely go to jail because if it was a native Caymanian who did these unlawful acts, he/she would go to Northward for five years.

    The wife or husband who was left on the outside, would have to suck it up, regardless of their hardships, medical illness or otherwise.

    You enjoy fast car’s and like to go drinking at Ritz Carlton every Sunday, then hire a Taxi from your $200,000 or $300,000 CI annual salary, that is earned tax free in the Cayman Islands every year.

    Poor Grandma and Grandpa tourists can’t even walk the sidewalks safely in Cayman anymore, without these spoilt/rotten and drunken idiots mowing them down.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hmmm, what about all the hit and runs or the hit and caught of those locals with connections that seem to go nowhere? People spewing double standard don’t jump on that bandwagon when it’s their own at fault. Not trying to defend this guy, just the nonsense I read on here daily.

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