Fatal crash suspect fails in bid to leave Cayman

| 05/06/2023

(CNS): A Canadian national and resident of the Cayman Islands who was arrested in March on suspicion of causing the death of Abele Hiwet (38) on the West Bay Road in a hit-and-run has failed in a legal bid to leave the country. The 36- year-old man who is on police bail, sought a judicial review after the RCIPS refused to return his passport while the collision remains under investigation.

Although the suspect who is, a cryptocurrency businessman, has not been charged, police say he was the man driving a Jeep that collided with and killed Hiwet, who was riding an electric bike close to Queen’s Court Plaza in the early morning hours of 8 March. He is accused of leaving the scene, but the police tracked down his vehicle shortly after the collision. Soon after that, he was located, given a breath test, which was positive, and arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving.

In April and May, he wrote to the RCIPS asking for his passport and offering a $5,000 bond and local surety so that he could go to Canada to visit sick relatives. But given the circumstances, the police were concerned he would not return, so they refused to vary the bail condition.

As the bail was issued by the police and not the court, the only course of redress open to him was a judicial review, which was heard by Justice Marlene Carter last month. He argued that the decision was “unreasonable and disproportionate” and the police had not given proper consideration to his request and his offer of a surety.

As this was a judicial review and not an appeal against court bail, the judge said she could not consider the merits of the decision, only the process that led to it. Based on correspondence between the police and his lawyer, Justice Carter found that the RCIPS had considered the issues and the question of whether he would return if given his passport, and that the potential charge had been upmost in the mind of the decision maker. She also found that the police had considered that the offer of $5,000 was no guarantee that he would come back.

Given the circumstances, the lack of ties the applicant has to the islands and the indications that the police had given due consideration to his request, Justice Carter said the refusal to vary the only bail condition imposed on him was not unreasonable.

It is not unusual for those arrested on suspicion of killing someone as a result of a road collision to remain on police bail without charge for many months because of the time it takes for the police to secure the necessary accident reconstruction reports on which prosecutors decide whether or not to charge.

Given the circumstances in this case, if the driver is charged and then convicted, a custodial sentence is quite likely, although there are examples where the sentence for drivers causing the death of others has been very limited.

Immigration officer Nicholas Tibbetts served just over three months in jail after he was convicted of killing Donnie Ray Connor, who was riding a bicycle at the time, in a hit-and-run on the Linford Pierson Highway in April 2015. Tibbetts had left the scene of the early morning crash.

See the full ruling on the judicial website here Cause G0097 of 2023.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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