No punishment for hit-and-run killer over leaving scene

| 15/02/2017 | 66 Comments

(CNS): A former immigration officer who was recently convicted of causing the death of Donnie Ray Connor in a hit-and-run collision on the Linford Pierson Highway in April 2015 was discharged by the Summary Court Tuesday for leaving the scene in connection with the case. Nicholas Tibbetts (25) was given no sentence following his admission and no further punishment in relation to the road death following the 3½ month sentence he was given in the Grand Court for causing Connor’s death.

Tibbetts, who is from Bodden Town, lost his job with immigration as a result of his conviction for causing death by dangerous driving. But he is now a free man, having served less than two months of his short jail term after he was remanded in custody in mid-December and released at the beginning of this month.

Tibbetts was originally charged with various offences, including manslaughter, after Connor’s body was found on the road, several hours after he had been hit and left to die at the scene of the collision, which happened in the early hours of the morning of 23 April almost two years ago. After long discussions between the crown and defence attorneys, Tibbetts, who had been tracked by police through CCTV evidence, eventually pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving.

Although he had been to a bar that night before the collision, he said he had not had very much to drink but fell asleep at the wheel because of the allergy medication he had taken. He said he had no recollection of hitting Connor, who was riding a bicycle, and at the time of his sentencing Tibbetts claimed he was still not sure he was to blame, despite the CCTV footage showing his car entering Linford Pierson Highway intact and then leaving it damaged.

Tibbetts claimed he only became aware of any damage to his car after passing the Country and Western Bar, and so pulled into the Esso station in Red Bay to check the vehicle. He then drove on home to Bodden Town and the next day had the car repaired.

Tibbetts claimed that after Connor’s death was made public, he discussed with family and friends whether he could be to blame, as evidenced by text messages. At one point police had charged him and two other people with attempting to pervert the course of justice but those charges were dropped.

Tibbetts did not go to the police but officers tracked him down four days after the collision and he was arrested.

A visiting judge handed Tibbetts a one-year jail sentence, which was discounted to an eight month term because of his guilty plea. But she was then required to discount his sentence further when his defence attorney raised the issue of Tibbett’s bail on a curfew and electronic tag, which saw the sentence cut even more to just three and a half months. As the Conditional Release Law does not apply to anyone serving less than 12 months, Tibbetts is understood to have been released after serving around six weeks in jail.

He appeared in Traffic Court Tuesday charged with leaving the scene and pleaded guilty, but Magistrate Adam Roberts gave Tibbetts a full discharge with no consequences.

Concerns have been raised in the community about the inconsistencies regarding the punishment handed out to drivers involved in road deaths. Donovan Kellyman, who admitted causing the death of Marcia Donaldson just a few days after Tibbetts killed Connor, is serving a two-year term because he admitted causing death by dangerous driving, rather than careless driving, which carries a heavier penalty. But this was because Kellyman did not leave the scene but called for help. As a result he was breathalyzed and found to be over the alcohol limit.

In the Tibbetts case, because of his quick departure from the scene, the repairs to his car and the fact that there was no evidence of how much he had drunk, he ended up facing a lesser charge. With no consequences for leaving the scene, this has created two very inequitable outcomes for drivers who caused the death of two people in very similar circumstances.

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Comments (66)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thank God Immigration Fired his ass! no integrity at all.

  2. Anonymous says:

    its a dying shame and although he lost his job I would say he got a light sentence for his actions. He can work elsewhere but what about poor Donnie! What I cant believe is the judge accepted his sorry story that it wasn’t till he was half a mile away that he realized he may of hit someone! OMG! he did not stop and he gets this. The guy who killed Marcia Donaldson at least stopped and he got 3 years! its a really sad comparison but wow!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I hope the Nicholas remembers this piece of information for the rest of his life, ” ….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. ”
    Saved your own ass at the expense of your soul.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Brothers & Sisters of Cayman, your island be a mess…good grief. Seems like illegal guns are the least of your concerns.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I would have confessed and taken my licks like a man… This guy definitely going to have some bad karma for his actions.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Nicholas Tibbetts was deprived of serving his time like a man for the mistakes he made. Killing someone was one crime and trying to cover it up was another crime and all he spent was 3 1/2 months in Northward?
    Is this the same Tibbetts family?
    Nick’s final judgement might not be so lenient.

  7. Anonymous says:

    That is truly pathetic.

  8. Anonymous says:

    injustice like this makes Cayman a truly third-world country.

  9. Anonymous says:

    everyone just gonna forget all about this in a few months lol

  10. Anonymous says:

    Ok, so if you hit and run now its better for you than if you stay at the scene, render help and call 911. This is absolutely embarrassing and now we will see more pedestrian and bicycle deaths from hit and run because people know they can escape punishment,

  11. Jus wondering says:

    I can only imagine the uproar this would have caused had the driver been white, and the victim black, or vice versa. My point being, would the magistrate have given the same verdict?

    • Soiled Son says:

      Not sure what you’re trying to get at, but wrong is wrong. Though I am white, I am still disgusted by the lenient treatment this person received for killing a black man – he killed an innocent person, tried to cover it up, played stupid, and got a slap on the wrist. Disgusting. I am also as equally disgusted by that sh1t for brain attorney, Simon Courtney, who had a prior drink and drive incident (convicted of it later) who then ran over a white couple visiting from the US. He did exactly the same (save for killing the couple) – tried to cover things up, played stupid, and learned absolutely nothing from the first that he got caught for drink and drive. He should be in jail for 10 years, not the 3 that he received. He’s just as disgusting as this piece of excrement.

      • Anonymous says:

        Preach Brother.

      • C says:

        The difference is that Courtney didn’t kill anyone, did stop, did ensure that the ambulance was called and THEN tried to cover up the fact that he had been drinking. There are several steps in there that this guy didn’t take, resulting in a man dying when he could have lived. Courtney gets 3 years and this guy serves 6 weeks. Go figure.

    • It's not what you know, it's who you know! says:

      If Donnie Ray Connor had been the driver you can bet your ass he’d be serving time! Sadly, it has always been this way in Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder who he knew…this is an outrage!! HE COVERED THE ACCIDENT UP, what more can you be said.

    • Anonymous says:

      its not about race…its about nationality and who he works for….
      another day in wonderland…………zzzzzzz

    • P&L says:

      I know what your saying but your comment also highlights the relativity of color. Ever heard of Cayman White? Well Tibbetts would tick that box if he could. Which is why many people feel color was a mitigating factor in his sentencing. Oh and the lodge… Let’s not forget them… local oddities make more sense when you throw them in the mix.

      • Anonymous says:

        P&L, I know that we all tend to fall victim to conspiracy theories, but this case was presided over by a distinguished British judge who was here on a temporary assignment. She has spent a life time on the British bench during which she demonstrated integrity and impartiality in her judgments. I hardly think that she is going to come here as she faces the golden years of her life to abandon her principles.

        So I don’t think her judgments have anything to do with the Lodge or who this young man may or may not be related to. That is sheer unfounded speculation that could have no basis in fact as far as this judge is concerned.

        I think that the sentencing turned on the fact that the young man had been under a form of pre-trial house arrest. It is the norm that sentencing is discounted by pre-trial confinement. Whether the nature of the pre-trial confinement warranted the degree of discount may be arguable, but that is another matter. Perhaps some guidelines could be devised to bring some consistency in the future so that justice is not only done but is seen to be done.

        I will also say that the judge must also have taken into consideration the view of Connor’s family who appeared in court to plead for liniency for Tibbetts. That is extraordinary.

        This was indeed a very sad case all round — to think of this man’s life ebbing away on the road is beyond sad.

        But I sort of understand the family’s position — and I tend to feel that were I in their position I might want to come down on the side of grace and mercy.

        Tibbetts will have a lifetime to reflect on the decisions he made and I don’t doubt it will continue to haunt him for the rest of his life.

        I only hope that others of us will learn the many lessons to be had from this sad episode.

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is nothing new in the Cayman Islands so why the outrage now??

  13. Cayguy says:

    BS. Don’t buy this crap that he fell asleep, killed a guy with his vehicle and awoke to find his car damaged without even knowing why. Not even tracing his steps back to see what he may have hit. clearly a hit and run situation and this guy gets a slap on the wrist. should have been 5 years driving disqualification, 2 years jail term minimum with probation on release. Sorry but justice was not served in this case and the crown is setting a very bad precedent with this one.

    • Freddy says:

      I agree with you. Its ludicrous at best. Firstly why would you even drink alcohol while taking medication? Its Nonsense as most medication is clearly marked ” Dont drive nor operate machinery whilst taking this medication. I’m sure his medication had that on it. He was double impaired and should not have been behind the wheel of a vehicle. Furthermore you hit and kill somebody and leave the scene of the accident and you stop into a gas station to look at your car”s damages. You didnt fall asleep. I see so much injusice being served by the judges here in courts after all the convicting evidence is there . Life isn”t worth nothing in Cayman.SMH.

  14. Anonymous says:

    In several countries it’s now illegal to drive while unfit from taking legal, or illegal drugs. If that’s not the case in Cayman then at a minimum the law should be changed and caught up with the rest of the world. Where did personal responsibility go in this case? If you feel impaired whilst driving it’s you responsibility to do something, like pull over, switch your engine off and call a cab, or if unwell 911. No-one else can do this for you. btw I don’t for a second believe that excuse, I take allergy meds, occasionally feel a bit drowsy, but never enough to not know what I’m doing, or have done. I know there are extreme cases, but if you know you have an extreme reaction you stop taking them and try other meds.I doubt this was the first time he took them, and even if it were, your first time taking new meds is after going to a bar, at night, right before you drive? I would need more than allergy meds to be able to sleep at night after that load of bull. RIP the unfortunate sole who met this joker on the road.

  15. Anonymous says:

    So, manslaughter by dangerous driving and obstructing the course of justice goes unpunished? Excellent message to put out there, judge — nice job!

    • Jotnar says:

      The judge has to sentence within the boundaries of the crime he was charged with. Blame the DPP for why this wasn’t death by dangerous driving, or manslaughter.

  16. Pepper Sauce says:

    Basically what the Government is saying, hit and run and you will face less time behind bars…I feel sorry for people out on foot and bike now lollll.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Wake up Caymanians! This injustice has shown us all that our justice system is a mockery of lies and corruption. Get up and stand up for your rights the time is now!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is sickening. How many times are these connected men going to get off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist?

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is bad, just thinking of the family of the person who died……sad day in court Cayman

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hopefully there is a place in hell waiting for his selfish scumbag to fester for eternity.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Cayman punishment seems to go according to skin color and who you for!! Smh

  22. Anonymous says:

    Wow how disgusting!! He kills someone and walks away!! Cayman justice has taken another downhill fall!!

  23. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely disgusting! What are lives worth in Cayman?! Absolutely nothing! Shame on the murderer- that is right- MURDERER! XXXXX Disgusting!

    • Anonymous says:

      Please note the last name. It explains it all.

    • Anonymous says:

      I wonder who “dislikes” people expressing their outrage over INJUSTICE?! If it were a loved one or someone you knew- would you have supported this outcome???

  24. DISTURBED says:

    This is appalling and insane on so many levels. He perverted justice in so many ways. When he suspected he could be at fault he did not go forward, yet he found the time to fix his car within 24hours! Who has their vehicle fixed the VERY NEXT DAY? How often have you heard that? A life is worth 3 months? So you get more time for drugs, financial crimes and a gun than when there is evidence that you have taken someone’s life. NO COMING BACK. Even by accident 3 months is RIDICULOUSLY inappropriate. It appears that this poor victim didn’t have anyone in his court to stand up against this ludicrous judgement. I blame the “visiting” judge and the parties in the system that wouldn’t give this sour judgement a second look. Especially with as many cases we have like this on island, most where there is no video proof. Tell me who will learn when there is no value to a life or reprimand to such actions? It wont be this man who “is still not sure he is at fault”.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Nicholas Tibbetts you should be ashamed of yourself! You may not be behind bars for long but I hope everytime you look at yourself in the mirror you see the guilty, coward, lying person that you are. You may have escaped a proper punishment and may even manage to keep your job but you can never escape the fact that you killed a man, left him on the side of the road to suffer in agony to his death and then continued to hide and lie like a coward. What a low life!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Where is the justice????? I’m not seeing it. All I see is garbage as usual. Disgraceful

  27. Anonymous says:

    Best he doesn’t walk or ride down the side of a road.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Absolute bullshit! This guy runs someone down , kills them, flees the scene and that’s all he gets. So let’s say someone ” accidentally ” drives through town mowing people down but doesn’t remember it. It’s all good then??? No justice for this guy or his family. XXXXX What a bunch of crap.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Connected, just like another Government employee who was accused of hit and run!
    Shameful and frightening! But their day will come by the judgement of karma!

  30. Anonymous says:

    cayman justice is no justice.

  31. Anonymous says:

    What maniac at the DPP accepted those unbelievable pleas in the Grand Court?

  32. Veritas says:

    Back in his job, back with his family, back without any conviction recorded, – is justice going backwards in this country. The papers should have published a photo of this lowlife so that everyone could recognise him and express their revulsion to his face.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correction Veritas at 8:07 pm: While he was discharged for leaving the scene, he does get a criminal record, according to the report in today’s Compass. Perhaps CNS could clarify that.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I note that he is referred to as a former immigration officer. I see the Civil Service is firing staff after all.

  34. Anonymous says:

    This sort of nonsensical, inconsistent sentencing just makes us all have no confidence in our justice system. I hope the fact that Kellyman is of Jamaican extraction and Tibbetts is “one of our own” has nothing to do with it.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Absolutely disgusting . Killed a man , did everything in his power to cover it up , lied through his teeth , is still lying and still wont accept responsibility for his actions and he gets 7 weeks in jail . If I wasn’t for the fact that a man is dead it would be laughable . The lesson learned here ? Don’t try to do the right thing after the fact like kellyman did ..just lie and hope for a lenient judge if you get caught. Sickening .

    • Anonymous says:

      What’s joke. He could not care less if the man lived or died. Tried to cover his tracks and lied about it. In turn he gets rewarded by the courts for bad behavior. It looks like if you hit someone on the road, the worst thing you can do is to stop and offer to help them, Run and keep low as long as you can.

    • Anonymous says:

      He will probably sue the govt. for the time he had to spend in jail.

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