Henry York Carter was sentenced on Friday to three years imprisonment for causing the death of pedestrian Glen ‘Papa Sleepy’ Seymour by reckless driving. In addition, Justice Alexander Henderson prohibited Carter from driving for the rest of his life, calling him a menace on the roads.
He did so after hearing about Carter’s record of previous convictions, describing it as horrendous and saying, ‘This is the worst driving record I have ever seen.’
Carter, now 29, had the first of his five sets of traffic offences dealt with in 1999, when he was 19. He was fined and disqualified for 15 months for offences that included reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
Less than a year later he was fined and further disqualified for driving while disqualified and without insurance.
In 2001, he faced two separate sets of charges. The first involved careless driving, driving while disqualified and leaving the scene of an accident. He was fined, ordered to perform 240 hours of community service and again disqualified.
The second set included driving while disqualified and without insurance, dangerous driving and failure to comply with a traffic signal. He was fined, disqualified and given a sentence of imprisonment that was suspended.
In 2003, he was convicted of driving while disqualified and without insurance, careless driving and a third offence of leaving the scene of an accident. He was disqualified again and sentenced to six months imprisonment.
After reciting these facts, Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn advised that all of Carter’s disqualifications meant he could not legally drive again until September 2006. The incident that led to Papa Sleepy’s death occurred on the night of 4 January 2007.
Justice Henderson said he thought the case at trial was marginal.
He inferred from the guilty verdict that the jury had found the following facts: Mr. Seymour was walking along the main road heading into Bodden Town and Carter was driving in the same direction. Carter must have veered off the roadway and struck the pedestrian. One witness said carter was driving about the speed limit, which was 25mph. There was no evidence of Carter consuming drugs or alcohol, except for his admission he had two beers.
But for his fleeing the scene after his van struck Mr. Seymour, the facts were relatively minimal, the judge said. The lack of erratic driving on Carter’s part would have suggested a low level sentence.
But, the judge continued, he could not ignore the fact that Carter had left the scene – whether to escape criminal or civil liability – and had amassed in his 29 years the worst driving history the judge had seen. Both were aggravating features.
The law requires a period of disqualification from driving. ‘In my view, the purpose of disqualification is predominantly protection of the motoring public and those walking on the side of the road,’ Justice Henderson said.
He considered Carter’s driving record as showing complete disregard for traffic laws and the safety of others. The only way the judge could protect the public was to impose prohibition for life.
Earlier, Defence Attorney Clyde Allen had urged the court not to impose a disqualification that would affect Carter’s employment. Carter worked in air conditioning, which involved travelling to different locations.
Mr. Allen said this was a sad case because Carter had excelled in school. Then he lost the sight in his left eye and it seemed his life had been in a downward spiral from then.
Jurors heard during the trial that Carter lost the sight in one eye at age 10. He said he compensated by positioning his body or turning his head to increase his field of vision. When driving, ‘I try to stay in the middle of my lane.’
Other factors aired during discussion of sentence included case precedents and a victim impact statement from a member of Mr. Seymour’s family. The judge read it, but not out loud.