Tibbetts to serve 3½ months for fatal hit-and-run

| 16/12/2016 | 82 Comments

(CNS): The immigration officer convicted of killing Donnie Ray Connor in a hit-and-run on the Linford Pierson Highway in April last year will serve just three and a half months in jail after the judge gave him more than four months credit for the time he served on bail under curfew on an electronic monitor. Nicholas Tibbetts (25) was taken into custody Friday after Justice Dame Linda Dobbs calculated the credit she would give him for the 18 months on bail on a tag, but not before she raised her concerns that she had not been in possession of all the facts when she first delivered her sentencing judgment on Thursday.

The visiting judge described the situation as “most unsatisfactory”, as she explained that the eight month term she handed down yesterday was based on what she had believed were all the relevant circumstances. But it was not until the judgement was delivered that defence counsel raised the issue of the tag and requested that Tibbetts be given a half day credit for every day he had been on the electronic monitor under curfew. Had the judge granted that request, Tibbetts would have walked free without serving any time at all, having been on the tag for more than 18 months.

But the judge said that the credit was discretionary. She found that because Tibbetts’ curfew was at night and for only ten hours between 8pm and 6am, the bulk of the curfew time was when most people would be sleeping and his liberty had not been significantly curtailed. Consequently, she gave Tibbetts around a quarter day for time served on the monitor.

Tibbetts had been charged with causing careless driving and not with dangerous driving due to lack of evidence the crown had against him. He did not stop but left the scene after hitting Connor, who was riding his bike. Tibbetts claimed not to have known he had hit anything until he pulled into the Red Bay Esso some distance away. As a result, there was never any evidence of the level of alcohol Tibbetts had consumed.

The starting point for causing death by careless driving is much lower than for dangerous driving. This explains why Tibbetts has been given a considerably shorter term than Donovan Kellyman, who was recently given a two-year sentence after he was convicted of causing the death of Marcia Donaldson by dangerous driving just a few days after Tibbetts hit Connor.

Kellyman had stopped at the scene and admitted his culpability immediately. Because he remained at the scene and alerted the emergency services, he was given a breathalyzer and was found to have been over the alcohol limit, elevating the charge to dangerous driving.

While Tibbetts had admitted consuming some alcohol, he denied being drunk. He claimed that he fell asleep at the wheel because of allergy medicine he had taken. But because he left the scene and had his car repaired, by the time the police tracked him down four days later, there was little evidence of what happened.

Although Tibbetts was originally charged with manslaughter, among other offences, eventually the case was reduced to one count of careless driving and one count of leaving the scene. The charge of leaving the scene remains in Summary Court and will be dealt with at a later date.

When the judge delivered her original eight month sentence on Thursday, she said she did not accept Tibbetts claims that he had very little alcohol or that he did not know he had hit Connor. Justice Dobbs said she felt the case fell not far short of dangerous driving, so she had started with a 15-month prison term.

She pointed to the aggravating factors, which included his admissions that he had consumed some alcohol mixed with allergy medicine, which he knew would make him drowsy, so he should not have got into his car. He had not taken the due care and attention that should be afforded to vulnerable road users such as cyclists. The judge found that these factors were compounded when Tibbetts failed to stop and took action to repair his car immediately.

But she noted a list of mitigating features as well, such as Tibbetts’ “impeccable character” before the collision, his clean driver’s licence, his good standing and high regard in the community, as well as the remorse he has demonstrated. On the other hand, the judge did state that he continues to distance himself from the death of Connor, with his position that he cannot remember the collision.

Given all of the circumstances, Justice Dobbs arrived at a term of twelve months but gave Tibbetts a credit of four months for his guilty plea. It was not until then, however, that the defence asked for the full-time served credit. It was clear the judge was unhappy with the very late arrival of the information that Tibbetts had been on curfew while on bail.

When she revised her sentence on Friday, she made it clear that it had been inappropriate to hold Tibbetts on a tag for so long and advised the crown to consider more carefully in future which defendants should be on electronic curfews, given the shortage of monitors.

She said that, given the circumstances of this case, Tibbetts movements could have been curtailed at night via a doorstep curfew without a tag.

It is understood that because Tibbetts was originally charged with manslaughter, the tag was a requirement of bail, but the tag was never removed after the charges were reduced.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (82)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Please please tell me there will be an appeal. He not only hit a man, the coward left the scene of a crime, left an injured man to die, hid for days and tried to cover it up! Please tell me that he atleast will lose his license and his job at immigration. There is no justice in this case but I guess that’s because the deceased victim wasn’t looked upon as a prominent citizen or related to a well-to-do family. Every life is important! Please DPP appeal this case and show that everyone counts

  2. Sunrise says:

    My opinion on this; it is just encouraging drunk drivers to leave the scene of an accident, no matter the severity!! Any death by careless or dangerous driving, especially leaving the scene, then trying to cover it up, should be a harsh punishment!! I don’t excuse the judge for this lenient sentence, something else is running deeper!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    So let’s say I am the driver and I do exactly the same thing. I am an ex pat. What are the chances this will be my sentence????? If the answer is yes , then what the judge sentenced is agreeable. But…….if it’s different,( trust me I am no fool and know that I’d be spending countless years behind bars), then this is a load of sh*t. Wake up Cayman. There are on
    Y so many garbage trucks to haul the loads of crap to the dump.

  4. just saying says:

    What on earth did he do to get off with a pat on his back? Unbelievable!!!!!!!!!! Only in the Cayman Islands. Am beginning to believe what the old people said “it is not who you know instead it is who knows you.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Lodgetastic.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Unnah don’ mess with that Bracka Brotherhood…

  7. Anonymous says:

    At least reassure the community that his licence was permanently revoked

  8. Poor guy says:

    Ok so we all know what to do if we want a 3 month vacation just go out and kill someone with you car woot woot

  9. 21 & Unimpressed says:

    What a disgrace to the people. Such lenient legislation is not commensurate with the felonious, remorseless acts committed.

    Our DPP should follow the Justice’s advice and strictly reserve the use of electronic tags for crimes of a more serious degree. Allowing Tibbetts access to this tagging regime enabled him to accrue significant reductions on his sentencing, mostly while asleep.

    Shame, shame, shame.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I understand all the sentiments expressed in regards to this story but the law in general is really an Ass but it also is fair ( I know it seems contradictory).. When a person confesses to a crime, it is not an automatic guilty verdict. The police still has to investigate. There is valid reason for that. A parent for example could decide that they have lived their life but dont want their child to lose theirs by letting them go to jail so without any witnesses, the parent could say it was them that committed a crime. Just an example but you get the point. So in this case, without camera evidence, and in spite of the actions of the defendant, the Judge cannot assume any facts, nor could she punish him because of how she felt. Any judge worth his or her salt can only issue a verdict and sentence based on the evidence presented by the attorneys on either side – regardless of how she or he feels and based on the charges brought. The Prosecution brought a charge of careless driving and leaving the scene. Not Manslaughter. Therefore, the judge cannot sentence the man for manslaughter she can only sentence based on the charge that was brought. . So if any blame = blame DPP. They are fickle and foolish with the kinds of stuff they take to court.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Back in the 70’s a man named Beatman hit a girl on a scooter and knocked off her leg in front of Royal Palms she past away as her leg was cut off by the speeding car on the wrong side of the road. He got 1 year out in 9 months.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I was asleep when it happened! Is that part of the Pirate code?

  13. rollin says:

    Like I have said before, criminals do not deserve the same rights as law abiding citizens.

    This human rights nonsense will be the end of judgment based on the crime.

    Thank you whiney liberals

  14. Anonymous says:

    Third world sentencing in a third world country for its citizen. Karma will catch up to the man and the country. Soon come.

    • Anonymous says:

      keep your irrelevant comments to yourself asswipe

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for proving my point. I should have said all ignorant citizens please disregard.

    • Anonymous says:

      You pieces of driftwoods don’t know what the f__k you all talking about,Nicholas is a great young man an outstanding caymanian with a clean record even for traffic,a way better role model than most of our politicians, he should have not even gotten a day in jail,Donnie was a criminal,drug addict with a mile long record,those of us caymanians who knew him know exactly what he was up to them hours of the night, even his own family knew what time it was when it came to him,why do you think his nephew wrote a letter on Nicholas behalf,it just sickens my soul to hear all your bias comments,but you all can’t help it bcuz of ignorance,thats why you all drifted away from where ever nasty country unnu came from n ended up here with the same ignorant mentally,to put away caymanians with out reason.Think on this for a second,would the comments still remain if the headline had said, Burglar shot an killed by licenced firearm home owner,no i don’t think so, you all would be praising the home owner,bias as usual.Cayman we are doomed bcuz of driftwoods.

      • Anonymous says:

        So, you think Donnie was deliberately run down? And that he deserved to be so? What a strange and worrisome viewpoint…….

      • Anonymous says:

        A life is a life. Nickolas is not more valuable than the deceased. With your explanation all criminals should get the death sentence.

        Nickolas killed a man. End of story.

      • Marcia says:

        Am a Caymanian. Call me a driftwood because I drifted not to but away from Cayman. I could no longer live in such a small community where the people were so heartless, bias, corrupt, evil and ignorant as you 6:28pm. It doesn’t matter how criminal Donnie was, one day he would have had his day in court, he didn’t deserve to be knocked down and die like a dog on the street, he was human if nothing else. He had a mother who loved him and God loved him. You are evil persona. How is it that the lawyer who knocked down the tourist couple was dealt the full-hand of the law when what he did was no worse than what Tibbetts did. What a crying shame and disgrace.

        • Anonymous says:

          hope the door didn’t hit ya on the way out 😉

        • Anonymous says:

          XXXX all I’m saying is if Donnie wasn’t on the rd them hours of the night doing his wrong doings then he would probably still be alive now,the bias point that I’m getting at is that if he was killed by a home owner for burglaries then you all would say he deserves it,Nicholas didn’t mean to kill him it was an accident he didn’t even know he had hit someone,yea when he relize a few days after he panicked, that’s just human nature plus he has never bin in trouble with the law before,it was wrong not to turn his self in but nobodies perfect,XXXX

        • Anonymous says:

          Plus the lawyer case was worst cuz he knew what he had did and deliberately lied about it

  15. Anonymous says:

    Why are the gangs risking 15 years for murder, or 10 years for carrying a gun when they can just run down the guy in their own car and get 3.5 months.

    If you can’t get your target to go scuba diving, this has to be the best option

  16. Anonymous says:

    Complete joke….what message this gives is if you hit someone, don’t stop and just wait until they track you down….absolute disgrace and an embarrassment to the cayman justice system….

  17. Anonymous says:

    disgusting. these are all great reference cases if any normal person has an accident and needs reference to past cases. I guess

  18. just saying don't shoot me says:

    I understand the negative sentiment, but having been in court for the proceedings it is unfair to blame the judge. The court was constrained by the legislation. The fact that there was a guilty plea, that there was strong personal mitigation including a letter from the victim’s family and that the defendant had spent a very long time with a electronically monitored curfew, significantly reduced the sentence. If people don’t like the result, change those who represent you in the LA, look at their policies and the laws they have passed to assess if they are looking out for the interests of the people. In the words of President OBAMA “don’t boo, vote”.

    • Veritas says:

      Why did the CPS drop the manslaugter charge – there is no doubt the poor man died as a result of the actions of this priviledged civil servant.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Our legal system is whatless what do you expect really guys leave everything to God and keep protective measures. I don’t ride bicycle unless I have a reflectors vest really sad. I

  20. Ralph Newman says:

    Is his father part of the MLA?

    • Anonymous says:

      to 2:56 — no, his father is deceased. and I don’t think closely if at all connected to Kurt Tibbetts, if that is what you are implying. in any case, the judge in this case is entirely new to Cayman and would not be aware of connections.

      I think he is lucky to be getting off so lightly, but as another poster noted he was under curfew for 18 months, although there nevertheless does seem to be some inconsistency when you compare his sentencing and all the circumstances to other cases. At the same time, don’t forget he will have to return for sentencing for leaving the scene, it appears. so it is not quite over for Tibbetts.

    • Anonymous says:

      3 1-2 months? Where if he had stopped and called the police than I can say ok it was a bad accident…but he fled and covered it up? How can you change that? The judicial system is a big joke!

  21. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the Crown should “lodge” an appeal?

  22. Anonymous says:

    He got 8 mths imprisonment. Sounds like a few of the posters here want to be a judge. Stop complaining and do it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I believe the scales of justice will even out over time. That is why this person received a disservice from the legal system to not be given a greater sentence. Just read the contributions written here and the public believes an injustice has occurred. It wasn’t hitting the man it was leaving the scene and then trying to cover it up.
    Shameful karma exists.

  24. Anonymous says:

    A question to all Caymanians about this mans punishment: If the poor soul who lost his life was a government employee, child, relative, friend, business partner, or legal partner of a prominent Caymanian in government or some other upper-class NonCaymanian, do you believe the punishment would have been the same?
    Or would it be seen as neutral (balanced) from some strange point of view??
    “Like Killed Like”

  25. Max says:

    I’m selling my bicycle pronto. Cyclists and pedestrians don’t stand a chance “vulnerable road users” will get no justice, the terminology suggests ride at your own risk. All cyclists move to Holland and other progressive countries where cycling is taken seriously and cyclists are protected and respected by implementing effective laws along with dedicated lanes.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Imagine. You accidently hit someone, stop, assist, tell the truth to the police, do not waste anyone’s time, show genuine remorse and contrition, and you get two years.

    You accidently hit someone, run, hide, leave your victim in a ditch to die, and you get less than 4 months.

    It seems our systems are more disgusting than our criminals!

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman justics stinks, 99 % of everything in Cayman are Corrupt, is not what you do, is who you are or who you know,the system is a crying hame,

  27. Anonymous says:

    So Courtney gets 3 years for leaving the scene & causing injury, while I acknowledge serious injury, Tibbet’s gets 3.5 months for causing death , painting his car to hide it & by careless driving. Just wow….

    • Anonymous says:

      In this case the person possibly didn’t know what had happened…Courtney did but was only concerned with trying to avoid prosecution. The people in Courtney’s case didn’t die but it was certainly no thanks to him.

    • Soiled Son says:

      Courtney’s an idiot, so let’s just leave him out of it.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Sick,sick,sick. Wtf is wrong with this place. Absolutely disgraceful . A life is worth nothing here.

  29. Jotnar says:

    Will he be on paid suspension whilst serving his sentence, and are Immigration going to announce that he has not broken the civil service code and will return to duty after getting out? You would like to think these are foolish questions, but given recent examples…..

  30. Anon says:

    I feel for the family but this BS sentence doesn’t surprise me. The news coming out of Cayman everyday becomes more and more absurd, dangerous, alarming, worrying and quite frankly disgusting.

    Every story is one of incompetence, hatred, abuse, ineptitude, outright blatant crime that goes unchecked, environmental issues, lost opportunities and a complete sense of lack of giving a s@*t!

    I’m glad I left, my memories of Cayman how it once was is what I’ll fondly remember.

    Paradise lost ?

    • Sad face says:

      And they wonder why no one respect them and thinks they are stupid?They have no voice no courage to stand up for what they want or whats right

  31. Anonymous says:

    Crimes of this type should not fall within the ambit of road traffic law. They should be charged as murder, manslaughter, GBH, ABH etc with intent where appropriate. The minimum sentence should be years if not decades, and there should be automatic disqualification from driving for 25 years and confiscation of property at a minimum of $100K. If the perpetrator leaves the scene, penalties should be quadrupled. It is time to start treating these people for what they are. Criminal scum.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you 100%, it time to treat these scumbags who leave the scene of a accident as they are murders.

  32. Anonymous says:

    No, no, no, no , no, no, no, no, no, no, no!!!!!!!!!!
    The fact that he promptly set about repairing his vehicle not knowing how it had been damaged according to him, not making any effort to ascertain how it had been damaged or report it to the police but knowing I’m sure of reports in the media of a fatality on a road he drives every day warranted at least 5 years.
    Our judiciary – omg.

  33. Anonymous says:

    So, please tell me if Dude still has his drivers licence.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I hope the victim family will sue that guy for compensation. He is a full of shit….why drove away from accident? Why repair car without telling the police? Why he saw damage on his car at red bay gas station, then why not drive back to see any problem…..that may save his life than leave him for dead.

  35. Anonymous says:

    cayman kind

    • anonymous says:

      It is time you change the record

    • Anonymous says:

      808 and others — it is degrading to Caymanians to keep using the terms “Caymankind” in such a sarcastic, belittling tone all the time.

      I don’t like that stupid tag line anyway, but if I live in Canada or America, with all their flaws and foibles, I would not expect to be constantly belittling Canadians or Americans — and I would not expect that they would like it if I foolishly felt compelled to do so.

      I don’t know where you come from, but there are downsides everywhere.

      Very often we express our opinion based on inadequate information and misunderstandings.

      I understand how people feel about this case and the right to express an opinion, but can we try to do so without becoming bigoted?

      In any case, we all have the right to exercise our options about where we live.

      • GTFTH says:

        Yes because the rest of them are so perfect……as they do not murder, lie, steal, cheat, rape etc only the “Caymankind” does it…idiots

  36. Anonymous says:

    caymankind justice…..sickening. end of story.
    any comment ms governor?????

  37. Veritas says:

    This is an absolute travesty of justice. “Impeccable character”, what a joke- his character stinks, knocking a man down, leaving him to die and pretending he knows nothing about it.If ever I meet this wretch I will tell him what I think of him, he is forever now branded as a scumbag.

  38. Anonymous says:

    The article refers to mitigating factor, one factor being that he had shown remorse. What remorse. Leaving the scene after hitting someone and waiting for them to die? Repainting his car to avoid attention. Shame on the

  39. Uncivil Servant says:

    Paid gardening leave?

  40. Anonymous says:

    Wow! It pays to be a law enforcement officer! Disgusting sentence!

    XXXXXX

  41. Anonymous says:

    what a joke!

  42. Anonymous says:

    I would write the Absurdistan comment, if this wasn’t so…well…Absurd…I am not a qualified judge but when you look at the lies this guy told after leaving a man to die…is this lodge intervention? Nod Nod wink wink from the CS or CIG? I feel for the victims family.

    • Anonymous says:

      This sentence is disgusting to the utter wicked act that has taken place.

      Someone’s life have been taken from them. They weren’t a cat or dog running across the street but a human being like the driver.

      Let’s not go any further though another lodge idiot or someone family to one!!! Who has gotten three and a half months ooh wow! Why add the half month? So the half month will be deducted for good behavior and whoola again its deducted from the entire sentence.

      Who do they really believe they are…. Not to worry folks GOD never sleeps nor does he slumber!

  43. Anonymous says:

    Are you kidding me, WTF?!

  44. Anonymous says:

    So good to see how our judicial system places value on human life.
    It’s all OK if it’s not yours eh?

  45. Anonymous says:

    No justice for the family of the deceased!

  46. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what kind of message does this send? It tells people don’t stop if you hit someone drunk as can get a higher charge and get more jail term. There is of course a moral obligation but the law should be set to discourage rather than encourage. This man could be alive if the driver had stopped.

  47. Anonymous says:

    What a joke!

  48. Anonymous says:

    This “punishment” is a disgrace.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Is there no more room in the prison or something? This sentencing is a complete and utter disgrace. No justice what-so-ever for the poor man who probably died a slow and painful death whilst the culprit made plans to cover his tracks.

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