Policeman fined for careless driving

Police Constable Ishmale Fitzroy Leslie was fined $450 on Wednesday after pleading guilty to careless driving.

PC Leslie had been charged with dangerous driving because of speed after an incident in the area of Burger King on North Church Street in August 2007.

He always denied speeding. The incident occurred while he was in uniform and on patrol in a marked police car.

The matter took some time to come to trial, in part because prosecution involved setting up a video link with a Crown witness who is now in Australia.

Magistrate Nova Hall put the charge to him – that he had driven at a speed dangerous to the public.

The officer replied, ‘Not guilty to dangerous driving, but guilty to careless driving.’

Crown Counsel John Masters said the plea was acceptable. He explained that, around 5am on 29 August 2007, there was a single vehicle incident in which the rear wheels of the police car lost traction and the vehicle left the road, colliding with a fence and metal pole filled with concrete.

PC Leslie, the driver, said he had been doing 25 mph at the time, but this was disputed. He was not hurt, but the vehicle had damage to its bonnet, headlights, doors, roof and light bar. Total cost of repair was $2,445.

An examiner formed the view that the vehicle itself was free of any defect that could have contributed to the accident. An accident reconstructionist measured yaw marks at the scene and calculated the vehicle’s speed at approximately 57mph.

Mr. Masters said there were some witnesses initially believed to have seen the accident, but they only saw the slide of the vehicle, not what led up to it.

The magistrate asked if compensation was asked for. Defence Attorney Marlene Smith said the matter wads settled by insurance.

She advised the court that Mr. Leslie had been a police officer for 15 years, the last four in Cayman.

On the morning of the incident there had been significant rain and he got into a skid as he was driving along. There was no indication of any danger to any pedestrian or road user, Ms Smith noted.

She found it ‘quite interesting’ that the matter had come to court. A person had only to drive past the traffic department to see how many police vehicles get in collisions, she said. Posing the question ‘How many officers are brought to court?’ she supplied the answer – ‘Nil’.

She suggested this was a suitable case for the court to impose a small fine. Mr. Leslie had saved the court valuable time by his guilty plea, she pointed out.

Mr. Masters spoke on a point of law, observing that the court could not draw inferences from the submission that other police officers may or may not have been brought to court. He said the sentence had to be on the guilty plea on the facts in this case. ‘That is all that matters.’

Earlier he said that the maximum penalty allowed by law is a fine of up to $1,000; imprisonment up to 12 months and disqualification for 12 months.

In addition to the fine, the magistrate endorsed Mr. Leslie’s licence and said she would make no further order.