Hit & run driver ‘unaware’ he killed cyclist

| 19/11/2016 | 47 Comments

(CNS): The man who killed Donnie Ray Connor on the Linford Pierson Highway in the early morning hours of 23 April 2015 claims he did not know he had hit anyone because he may have fallen asleep after taking allergy medicine. Nicholas Tibbetts, who left the scene after mowing Conner down, appeared in court Friday for sentencing. As the prosecutor outlined what experts believed happened, he described a harrowing collision between Tibbetts’ SUV and Connor, who was riding his bicycle.

As he presented the details of the case before visiting judge, Justice Dame Linda Dobbs, crown counsel Greg Walcolm told the court that Tibbetts carried on driving, despite hitting Connor’s bike, causing the man to bounce across the bonnet of the SUV, and dragging him and his bicycle along the road, all of which caused significant damage to the vehicle.

The court heard that Tibbetts believes he was roused from dozing at the wheel by another car blowing its horn and flashing its lights by the Kings Sports Centre roundabout, but maintains he has no memory of hitting Connor.

Tibbetts did not stop his SUV until he was near the Country and Western bar, where he claims he realized he had a flat tyre. This was caught on CCTV and said to be around 1:30 in the morning. He was aware then that he had been involved in an accident because he saw the extensive damage to the front left side of his car. But he did not alert the authorities and drove on home.

Meanwhile, Connor lay badly injured just a few kilometers away, dying on the roadside. According to medical evidence, he was alive for almost two hours. However, his body was not discovered until around 4:30am by another cyclist.

Tibbetts was arrested after a five-day hunt and a police alert asking the public and mechanics to look out for a silver SUV with near side damage. With the assistance of anonymous tip-offs, the investigation led them to Tibbetts’ Bodden Town home, where they found that his car had been recently repaired and newly painted.

Originally arrested for manslaughter, Tibbetts eventually pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving. He denied being drunk but claimed he may have fallen asleep at the wheel after taking Benadryl for allergies. He also denied trying to cover up his culpability in Connor’s death after messages on his phone had suggested he knew he had killed the cyclist but was trying to avoid detection. He said that he had the car repaired and repainted because he needed it for work.

Defence attorney Amelia Fosuhene said that at first Tibbetts did not know that he was the person who had killed Connor and believed that he had hit something, not someone, near Country and Western some distance from where Connor was killed. She said incriminating messages were innocent conversations Tibbetts had with friends and family questioning whether he could have been the driver involved in the hit and run, but he simply did not know. She told the court he was discussing going to the police but they came and arrested him before he handed himself in.

The court heard that Tibbetts has no previous convictions, not even on driving offences, and has been doing voluntary work since he was suspended from his job at immigration following the charges. Fosuhene said Tibbetts had shown enormous remorse since CCTV and forensics made it clear it was his car that hit Connor and had he known he would never have left the scene.

When Tibbetts appeared for his sentencing hearing,  he was supported by lots of friends and family, but the court also heard from Connor’s nephew.

Edlyn Moore wrote to the court about what had happened to his uncle and made it clear he did not want to see Tibbetts got to jail. In his letter he said he did not want to see Nicholas Tibbetts at Northward because of the impact prison had had on Connor, who had served time.

Moore said in his letter that it would hurt him to know that Tibbetts would be going to jail for a mistake, adding, ”Prison is a dreadful place.”

Moore asked the court to consider probation and community service to allow Tibbetts to give something back, coupled with a lengthy driving ban.

After hearing submissions from both sides, with the crown calling for a custodial sentence because of the serious nature of the offence and the defence calling for a community based punishment, Justice Dobbs said she would deliver her decision in December.

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Comments (47)

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  1. Aunt Agonist says:

    Perhaps his car was a sacred vehicle.

  2. Diogenes says:

    Simon Courtney got 3 years and a 5 year ban and handed himself in. Lets see what Mr Tibbetts gets for actually killing someone.

  3. Anonymous says:

    honesty is the best policy….admit your crime/mistake….take your punishment and then rebuild your life….

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is shameful and complete and utter BS that he slept through hitting a bicycle and the victim being knocked onto the bonnet of his car. Absolutely and utter drivel. But let’s pretend for just a moment of total craziness that his excuse is real……he claims he KNEW he hit something. Well you would think the next day, and following days, when the news of there being a hit and run at the same time and day he was driving on the same road, and the police looking for a car exactly like his, that he would go to the police and make sure it wasn’t him….but instead he quickly fixes his car up. Not only is he a disgusting man who left a person to die slowly on the road, he is trying to escape his due punishment by making up ridiculous excuses.
    He should absolutely serve time for his selfish awful behaviour. A man died who could still be alive today if not for his cowardly actions.

    • Anonymous says:

      Such a shame that his car was able to go around the roundabout by the Lion’s Centre while he slept but not able to avoid the cyclist.

    • Anonymous says:

      go jump off the bluff

    • Anonymous says:

      After 5 days he was going to turn himself in??? After he painted and repaired his car? after he came up with the BS story of not knowing he hit and dragged someone? After he heard about it on the news and family and friends asked him??? He needs to spend quite sometime in jail. If he at least said yes i did it and panicked it would have sounded more remorseful, but to come out with a BS story like that…..just knowing the man he hit lay there for two hours is horrible in itself!

    • Anonymous says:

      You are blind!!! you have to be a family member of Nicholas to be so blind… what if it was the other way around and “your” Nicholas was the one that got hit down and left there to die…. would you say the same thing?

  5. Broad Minded Caymanian says:

    First off…Nicholas was not driving an SUV.
    Secondly, the court needs to let the public be aware of what was found on the “victim” – cocaine and jewelry with suspicion of committing a robbery.
    Thirdly, lets put into account of the “victim’s” nephew who wrote to the court stating how much damage having a well respected young man like Nicholas thrown into jail. Just look at the “victim” for instance….an ex convict.
    You all believe that every crime should be justified by jail time.
    What good will that do for young people like him who make these mistakes????
    Nicholas is not escaping any responisbility as having to live with this for the rest of his life serves as a dreadful punishment in itself.
    Young men like Nicholas now needs to be in the community so that other young people and “cyclers” can avoid future mishaps.
    Cant understand why you all write comments with such resent and hatred towards your own people!!
    Be Caymankind for God’s sake…

    • Anonymous says:

      The victim may or may not have been an angel, he sure is now, may he rest in peace. It does not mean someone can run him over and leave him to die without impunity. The whole story smells. Do the crime, do the time.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you serious? Because the man who died was an ex con, it was okay for Nicholas to hit and run and leave him dying for several hours? One life is worth more than another? Grow up!

    • Anonymous says:

      So you see nothing criminal in hitting a cyclist and leaving the scene of the crime and then attempting to cover up that crime by repairing and repainting the damaged vehicle in an attempt to escape responsibility.
      Your comments speak volumes of your own ethics or lack thereof.

    • Anonymous says:

      WTF!! So because the VICTIM in this case was found with cocaine and potentially involved in a robbery, the driver who mowed him down and left him do die on the road should not go to prison. He should go free so he can tell young people and “cyclers” to be more careful so as not to be slaughtered by drivers like him???? Blame the victim and let poor Nicholas off for his “mistake”…..UNBELIEVABLE…..

    • Anonymous says:

      you are caymankind and i am sick to my stomach…..
      the only way tibbets will get over this is to be a man and admit his guilt and lies, then serve his time…..

    • CGS says:

      I am not sure why you keep putting the word victim in quotation marks. That is implying that the man, who is now dead, as a result of Mr. Tibbetts actions, was actually not a victim.

      Him having cocaine or allegedly stolen jewelry on his person doesn’t make him not a victim.

      A man’s life was lost and all you want to do is smear him with accusations of having cocaine and allegedly stolen jewelry?

      Are you saying that Conor deserved to be knocked down and die because he served time, allegedly had cocaine and stolen jewelry?

      You are a despicable person if you are suggesting something like that.

    • Veritas says:

      Broad Minded- yout response defies belief unless you are Caymanian. You seem to think this low life local driver is the victim and make the ludicrous comment that “Nicholas is not escaping any responsibility”!.Unfortunately there are so many like you who seem to think Caymanians can do no wrong.

    • Diogenes says:

      Cyclists and the community would be safer if he wasn’t free to drive for some time.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Nicholas is not escaping any responisbility as having to live with this for the rest of his life serves as a dreadful punishment in itself.”

      I don’t know Nicholas, but it seems to me like he had progressed quite well with “having to live with this for the rest of his life” until the police showed up.

    • Anonymous says:

      JESUS JUMPED UP CHRIST….Never in my life….I am speechless….you must be the mother, or the father, or the sibling or some other enabling relation who subscribes to the typical local attitude that their precious baby boy snowflakes can do no wrong. You know what? F**K YOU. And F**K your entitled, spoiled brat MAN SAMPLE who is the way he is because YOU or people like you made him think that he could DO NO WRONG and that the way to deal with accusations were to LIE and BULL**** his way out of it, to avoid responsibility even if it means blaming a DEAD PERSON. YOU SHOULD BE PUT IN JAIL TO ROT RIGHT ALONG BESIDE HIM. Or have someone break your legs and ribs and skull and put you out on the side of the road to die like an animal. “Young men like Nicholas need to be in the community” ???????Really? You unbelievably obnoxious FU**ER. I didn’t know Donnie, but I did know that he was an addict with mental issues. Most people knew this. Do you suppose he aspired to be whatever he was? Do you suppose that as a child he would daydream about being an addict when he grew up? EVERYONE’S PATH IS DIFFERENT. EVERYONE MAKES BAD CHOICES AND MISTAKES, even your precious Nicholas, but where the disgusting part of this comes in is HOW NICHOLAS CHOSE TO RESPOND TO HIS MISTAKE….BY BEING A COWARDLY PU**Y AND RUNNING LIKE A LITTLE B**CH TO COVER HIS MISTAKE. THAT is the difference between a man and a boy. I didn’t need to know Donnie to know that whatever mistakes he made in his life and whatever drugs he was on and whatever crime he was committing DOES NOT GIVE YOU OR YOUR BRAT THE RIGHT TO BE JUDGE AND JURY OVER HIS LIFE OR TO HAVE BALLS BIG ENOUGH TO ACTUALLY DEFEND HIS ACTIONS. Being his relative or his friend is not your crime. Your crime is acting as if this coward was right to make the choices he did and tell the lies he told to cover his BEING DRUNK AND HIGH WHILE DRIVING A CAR. I have a grown son and I am telling you right now that if it was my child that had done this and tried to cover it up I MYSELF WOULD BUST HIS ASS AND THEN HAUL HIM TO THE STATION. And then you have the nerve to quote “Caymankind” at us. Piece of unbelievable SH*T. How do you even sleep at night, I ask you?

  6. Anonymous says:

    he should get jail time. I am sorry. This man laid there for two hours slowly dying. If he had stopped, called an ambulance maybe just maybe he may still be alive. The excuse of I didn’t know someone was flown across the bonnet of my car, let me get it fixed right away so nobody notices and the next day he hears about a person on a bike in a hit and run, friends were telling him are you sure it wasn’t you, and it didn’t add up???? Throw the book at him!!! He was drunk and yep didn’t know he hit someone i believe that!!

  7. I dont buy it says:

    I dont buy the falling asleep story. He drove quite a distance after the accident and had he really been sleeping he would have crashed. The punishment in this case must be severe because had he taken the heat and stopped and helped the victim that man may be alive today. That is all the judge needs to consider!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Blame it on the allergy medicine. Your Caymanian so it should work in court.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile, he is still on the government payroll. SMH

  10. Anonymous says:

    Intentionally or not, he killed a person. Vehicular homicide is a crime that involves the death of a person as a result of criminally negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
    He had tried to deceive when he repainted and repaired the vehicle.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Always an excuse. Always a way to escape responsibility. Caymans roads are full of these cowards. And those who support them.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Not that it matters as the court will decide, but this does not stack up. How can you not notice someone going across and landing on your bonnet? Unless you are incapable of reacting to it…I could understand shock perhaps making you drive on but not noticing, no.

  13. Anonymous says:

    So had he stopped, the person who was alive for two hours would have got to hospital in the golden hour and may have survived? We’ll never know, but that sounds like manslaughter to me.

  14. Anonymous says:

    May God have mercy on you Nicholas Tibbetts. It is a horrible thing to live with.

  15. Richard Wadd says:

    Did the bicycle have lights when the accident occured?
    Where there reflectors on it?
    What colour clothing was the rider wearing?
    Why would the rider have been out on the road at 3:00am? Was he intoxicated?
    I’m not saying that Mr Tibbetts is without blame, but to what degree?
    There are Laws for bicycle riders but they are not being enforced anymore and this puts other road users at risk?
    We must not forget that the driver is also a victim in this accident as he has to live with this for the rest of his life.
    Most of us cannot predict how we would react if we found ourselves in his position.

    • Jotnar says:

      Let’s blame the victim. Any sympathy you can have for someone accidentally hitting a cyclist without lights or cycling drunk or whatever else you device he did, none if bit counts a damn when the guy that hit him drives off and leaves him to die, and even if you believe his story doesn’t turn himself in when the news comes out but has the car repaired instead.

    • Yes Suh says:

      Did you check your brain at the door when you wrote this?

    • Anonymous says:

      Such shameful, useless drivel, Richard Wadd. What you’ve done above is a stellar example of victim-shaming!

    • SSM345 says:

      There’s only 1 reason for not stopping at an accident and that is when you have something to hide. The fact that you hit a person and drive off to die tells me that you were way over the limit, especially when you later claim that you passed out from Benadryl, which is a pretty standard allergy medicine (in terms of strength) and wouldn’t make you pass out unless you mixed it with quite a few drinks.

      • SSM345 says:

        This “unaware” defense seems to be the go to for many in Cayman when they find themselves in front to the courts, remember Mac who was unaware he couldn’t use his Govt. credit card to gamble?

        People would have far more respect for you if you did the right thing by owning up and taking your licks like a man. No one to blame but yourself.

    • Veritas says:

      Mr Wadd,
      You have to be the greatest apologist on this planet. If it had been your brother who had been left to die on the road I’m pretty certain I could predict how you would have reacted.If we are to believe Mr Tibbetts,the victim could have been wearing a fluorescent suit, with a searchlight mounted on the rear of his bike, and none of this would have made the slightest difference.

    • Broad Minded Caymanian says:

      Thank you Mr. Wadd!

      The victim having being found with posession of suspected stolen jewlery and cocaine…. So if he just came from robbing someone or a home, he is still victim yea?

  16. Anonymous says:

    He woke up from somebody blowing the horn, but slept through hitting a bicycle ? I don’t get that.

    • Jotnar says:

      Slept through hitting the bike and having the victim fly across the bonnet, then kept sleeping whilst magically driving the car (with a flat tire as well) all the way to Kings roundabout before waking up. Must be one of those self driving cars.

    • Anonymous says:

      yeah…cos he’s lying….

  17. Anonymous says:

    Caymankind

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