Fleeing police was dangerous

A man who drove away from police and forced them to chase him was sentenced last week to 16 months imprisonment for dangerous driving.

The maximum sentence is two years, Mr. Justice Alexander Henderson noted. If Bruce Lee Ebanks had not pleaded guilty, that is what he would have received, the judge indicated.

Attempting to escape from police and forcing them to pursue is the most serious form of dangerous driving that comes before the courts, he said. It would have involved high speed, and that endangers other road users.

Ebanks, 30, committed the offence in November 2004.

Crown Counsel Andre Mon Desir said police officers were driving on West Bay Road at night when they saw a man without a shirt, sweating profusely. He was getting into a van.

The officers turned on their blue lights and siren, but the van sped away. They gave chase and in the vicinity of Four Winds Esso the fleeing driver lost control of the van. It tipped over on the driver’s side.

The driver, Ebanks, climbed out and attempted to escape, but he was apprehended. While he was being transported to the police station he began acting aggressively and kicked the left rear window of the police car, smashing it to pieces.

The officers noticed a strong scent of alcohol on his breath.

Defence Attorney Margetta Facey-Clarke explained why. Ebanks worked as a bus driver and had been on the road since 6.30 that morning, she said.

During the day he got a phone call from his girlfriend, who had left the island. She told him she no longer wanted to marry him and wanted to end the relationship.

He got upset first, and then frustrated when he tried to call her back without success. He went to a local pub and started to drink beer and then rum, thinking that would solve some of the frustration.

Ebanks had been driving for five years and had no previous traffic offences of any kind, Ms Facey-Clarke added.

When he smashed the car window he was not in his right mind, the attorney said. As soon as he was sober he co-operated. He was still willing to pay the cost of repair, which she understood to be $1,100. The defendant’s mother was willing to help him pay.

The judge said he wasn’t sure he wanted to order compensation if it were going to be paid by the mother, because she had not done anything wrong.

He pointed out that intoxication is not a defence. He also noted there are some offences for which intention is a necessary ingredient. But it did not matter how drunk a person was – he could still commit the crimes of dangerous driving and damage to property.

For the damage the judge passed a sentence of 60 days consecutive to the dangerous driving term, making a total of 18 months. Time in custody is to be taken into account.