Crash lawyer jailed for 3 years

| 07/07/2016 | 136 Comments
Cayman News Service

Simon Courtney is led out of the courthouse in handcuffs

(CNS): Simon Courtney (50) was jailed for three years and banned from driving for five years after visiting Grand Court judge, Justice Malcolm Swift, condemned the corporate lawyer for what he said was his cynical attempts to avoid responsibility for the serious harm he caused his victims when he ploughed his high-powered sports car into them because he was drunk. The judge said Courtney had been convicted on “the clearest possible evidence”.  Cathy and Richard Schubert suffered dreadful injuries, Justice Swift said, and it was fortunate that he wasn’t facing even more serious charges.

Courtney mowed down the Schuberts after a champagne brunch at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman in January last year in a souped-up Ford Mustang and then fled the scene.

The judge said he had no doubt that Courtney would have fled the scene had the collision happened in a more remote part of the island.

“I dread to think of the consequences for them,” he said, had there been no witness and people to help, as he suspected Richard Schubert would have succumbed to his injuries. “Your first thought was not for your victims but for your driver’s licence,” the judge stated as he questioned the claims Courtney had made at trial that he fled the scene to call for help.

Justice Swift described Courtney’s claims as a “wicked lie” and his brief expressions of sorrow as disingenuous. He also condemned Courtney for claiming at trial that he had sustained a concussion in the accident with no medical evidence to support it, then going on to claim in a social enquiry report, made after his conviction, that he had a brain injury, again with no evidence to support the claim.

It was all part of the lengths he was going to in order to avoid the consequences of his actions, the judge found. He also took a dim view of Courtney’s deliberate attempt to avoid the authorities by staying away from home all night, only going to the police 24 hours after the crash.

“I have no doubt whatsoever you were the worse for drink,” the judge added, as he pointed to what he said were Courtney’s cynical attempts to keep the court from knowing how drunk he really was. Justice Swift said Courtney probably didn’t know how much he had drunk, but based on the evidence at trial, he had probably consumed an entire bottle.

But even though he was incapable of driving safely, he climbed behind wheel of his “track inspired” Ford Shelby Mustang on a wet road, the judge said. However, the jury rejected his claims that his driving was not impaired.

The judge said witnesses had heard Courtney gunning his engine and accelerating harshly before he lost control. Justice Swift said he believed that such a car required 100% concentration even for a sober driver, but he lost traction on the slippery surface because of his inability to control the car. Instead of stopping, he continued to drive and the inevitable happened.

Justice Swift noted Courtney’s persistent lies throughout the case, which were repeated under oath and to social workers ahead of sentencing, indicating that he was still in denial about what happened, and his continuing efforts to evade the consequences at every turn.

“Whatever has been said about your glittering career in the law, your behaviour here was shameful,” the judge told him.

He described how the Schuberts lives had been turned upside down, with Richard Schubert in constant pain for the rest of his life.

Although Justice Swift acknowledged that Courtney has destroyed his own life and career, it was nothing compared to what he had done to the Schuberts. He said Courtney must now bear the consequences of his own life and that his wife’s family and friends would need to rally around her.

With no legal precedent locally for the offences that Courtney committed, which included two counts of inflicting grievous bodily harm and reckless driving, the judge based his ruling mostly on comparative cases and UK guidelines, as well as some local death by dangerous driving cases in this jurisdiction.

With no mitigating factors to speak of, the judge started at two years and increased the sentence to three as a result of the numerous aggravating factors and said there were no grounds to suspend the jail term.

During the delivery of the sentencing ruling Courtney appeared resigned to his fate but his wife was again in significant distress. As the prison officers led him away, Courtney reassured her that he would be fine and that he loved her.

Under the new conditional release law, Courtney will serve 60% of his sentence before becoming eligible for parole.

As the case concluded, the judge also raised his concerns that Courtney has another unresolved driving offence for DUI that remains in the Summary Court dating back some five years. The judge asked the crown to research the case and find out the reasons why Courtney was on bail for an offence from 2011 when he committed this offence in January 2015.

Courtney is also charged with leaving the scene of an accident in this most recent case, but although it was an aggravating factor in the current sentencing, it is a summary offence and therefore will be dealt with in the lower court.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (136)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    And the immigration official that allegedly did the hit and run 2 years ago is still in a position of power to randomly destroy lives

  2. P&L says:

    Of course it is a good lesson for “don’t drop and drive” and I don’t think the “scum” references are stemming from that aspect of the case. It is the inability to take responsibility there on the scene to help this HE had injured as well as his hiding out fiasco which all could see was lawyer spin… But he spun himself into a web that led to Northward!

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