Woman fined after traffic death

Following trial in Grand Court, a Canadian woman was fined $30,000 after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving.

Carla Youck, 29, was also disqualified from driving for five years.

She had pleaded not guilty to causing the death of Carlos Benavides Polacio, a passenger in the car she was driving around 8pm on 21 September 2003.

The defendant had been on the island approximately six months when the incident occurred, on West Bay Road near the junction with Raleigh Quay.

She elected to be tried by judge alone.

In announcing her verdict last week, Mrs. Justice Priya Levers first reviewed the evidence and reminded herself of the points the prosecution had to establish.

These were: that the accused was driving; that she drove in such a manner that fell far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver; that it was obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous; that the manner of driving contributed to the death of a person.

The judge noted that she had to use the standard of the ordinary prudent motorist.

According to the facts, it was a clear evening with good visibility. Youck was driving a Suzuki. She was heading in the direction of West Bay and when she realised she had missed her intended destination, she wanted to turn around.

The Prosecution alleged that she turned without stopping and collided with a Honda travelling toward George Town.

The Defence was that she was stationary and the Honda collided with her.

One eyewitness said the accused was in the process of negotiating the turn when the collision occurred. In fact, she said, the Honda could not have avoided the collision.

The Defence called a reconstruction expert who concluded that the collision had occurred in the turn lane. The expert for the Crown disagreed.

The judge found that the point of impact was in the lane heading toward George Town, not in the turn lane. She also found that the way the cars were damaged was consistent with the Suzuki manoeuvring a turn when the accident happened.

If Youck had paid proper attention before turning, she would have seen the Honda, the judge said in finding her guilty.

Other evidence included the fact that no one in the Suzuki was wearing a seat belt. Both Youck and the driver of the Honda tested negative for alcohol.

After hearing mitigation from Attorney Clyde Allen, the judge said she was bearing those submissions in mind. Youck had been pregnant at the time of the incident and had lost the child. There could be no greater shock than that, the judge indicated.

The defendant had been of good character. The judge said she had watched Youck during the trial and believed her to be genuinely remorseful.

The case for the Prosecution was conducted by Senior Crown Counsel Adam Roberts.

In lieu of paying the fine, Youck would have to serve six months imprisonment. She was given seven days to pay.

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