Drink driving trial resumes 27 November
One officer completed his evidence Tuesday and a second witness was due to be cross-examined when Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn adjourned the drink driving trial of Cayman Islands Education Minister Rolston Anglin until later this month citing the limited availability of a pending expert prosecution witness to testify.
Mr. Anglin has pleaded not guilty to careless driving as well as driving under the influence of alcohol and, in the alternative, driving whilst impaired.
All charges arise from a one-car accident along West Bay Road some time after 2am on 23 May this year.
Because the Crown is calling an expert witness who is available only on 27 November, the trial has been adjourned until then. In a statement to police, Mr. Anglin said he had consumed one light beer the evening before the accident and had consumed medications. Crown Counsel Matthew Coles said the expert is expected to give evidence on the rate at which alcohol would have been eliminated from Mr. Anglin’s body.
There are other police officers to give evidence, so the magistrate said she would look for two more days after 27 November during which the trial could continue.
The Crown’s first witness was to have been Acting Superintendent Angelique Howell, then chief inspector with the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
However, Mr. Coles explained, she was still in bereavement following her mother’s death in a road accident and would give her evidence later in the trial. The Crown’s case is that Mr. Anglin phoned her at her home around 2.30am and told her he had fallen asleep and run off the road into bushes in the vicinity of Avalon Condominiums. He asked for help and she said she would contact officers to go to the scene.
Sergeant Clesford Lumsden was one of the officers who responded and he was the Crown’s first witness. He said he charged Mr. Anglin after a roadside breath test, having observed that Mr. Anglin was unsteady on his feet and his breath smelled of alcohol.
Questioned by defence attorney Steve McField, Mr. Lumsden agreed it had been raining heavily earlier that night, but asserted it was raining lightly when he arrived at the scene.
He also agreed that the driver’s side of the car was in the bush and it was wet and there was debris on the ground where Mr. Anglin came out of his car. The officer said a lot of trees were broken down from the accident and Mr. Anglin had to walk on them.
Mr. McField suggested that was when Mr. Anglin stumbled, but the officer said no – that Mr. Anglin was out of the debris and on the shoulder of the road.
Earlier, Mr. Lumsden said that when he first got to the scene, about 2.50am, he opened the door of the vehicle and observed Mr. Anglin behind the steering wheel and an unknown female in the front passenger seat. He asked if they were injured and ascertained that they were not.
He then went back to the police vehicle to fetch his notebook and Police Constable Ian Terry came and told him that the female needed to use the bathroom and he was going to take her to the Westin hotel so she could do so.
Mr. Lumsden said he gave the OK and shortly after that Mr. Terry returned without the female. He asked where she was and Mr. Terry said she was staying at the Westin and did not come back. Mr. Lumsden said he told the constable he did not have any details of the female, so Mr. Terry rushed back to try to find the lady.
Mr. Lumsden said he asked Mr. Anglin who the lady was and Mr. Anglin replied that she was a delegate attending the Caribbean conference.
When Mr. Lumsden asked her name, he said Mr. Anglin began looking through some papers and then said he could not find it.
The officer said it was during this time that he smelled the scent of intoxicating liquor on Mr. Anglin’s breath. He had a roadside breathalyser and requested a specimen; he said Mr. Anglin complied and the result was a reading of .136. The legal limit for driving in Cayman is .100.
Mr. Lumsden said Mr. Anglin told him the accident occurred when he saw another vehicle coming toward him and he swerved “over here”.
The officer told the court that Mr. Anglin said that or something like that. Mr. McField suggested that Mr. Anglin had told him he went to turn around in the road and the car skidded. “No, sir,” Mr. Lumsden replied.
Constable Terry said that after he received permission to take the female to the hotel, he transported her to the Westin – roughly 250 feet from the accident site – and she went inside while he waited in the lobby area. He waited a while and when she did not return he went to the front desk to make some inquiries as to who the person was and her room number, but the clerk could not provide him with any information. He said he went back later, but still didn’t get any information.
After Mr. Coles completed his questions, the magistrate explained that it was after 5pm and Mr. Terry would be questioned by the defence on the next date, 27 November.
Before the trial began, Mr. McField had objected to the alternative charge being joined to the first charge.
He argued that driving under the influence of alcohol and driving whilst impaired are mutually exclusive and the defence had the right to know which they had to meet.
He said having the two charges arising from the same incident was oppressive and duplicitous. He did not know of any other instance in which these two charges were brought on the same set of facts.
The magistrate took time to consider submissions from both sides and ruled that the charges were not duplicitous because they were true alternatives – either/or. She said there are two ways in which the offence could be committed: a driver could be under the influence of alcohol to such an extent that his driving was impaired or he might provide a blood/alcohol reading that was over the legal limit.
She pointed out that, the way the Traffic Law is written, a driver can be impaired without exceeding the legal limit or he could be above the limit and his driving was not impaired.
The trial would show whether evidence proved one or the other, the magistrate indicated.