Man sentenced for causing death of Zak Quappe by dangerous driving
The driver of a car involved in a road race that led to a crash and the death of 21-year-old Zak Quappe was sentenced to four years imprisonment on Thursday.
Igor Domladis pleaded guilty to causing the death of Mr. Quappe, when the cars driven by the two men collided on May 18, 2013.
When Domladis, now 24, entered his plea in September this year, attorney Ben Tonner accepted that the young men were engaged in competitive driving.
Justice Malcolm Swift listed the aggravating and mitigating features of the case, which he regarded as balancing each other out. For the benefit of members of the public who might think the sentence was too lenient, he explained he was giving substantial weight to the fact that the victim was “a willing participant in the furious and wanton driving which brought about his own death.”
The maximum sentence in Cayman for causing death by dangerous driving is 10 years. The judge started at six years and then gave a one-third reduction for the guilty plea, arriving at four years.
The incident leading to the charge occurred in the vicinity of Sand Cay on South Church Street around 3 a.m. The speed limit there is 30 mph, but the defendant was driving in excess of 60 mph.
Justice Swift summarized the facts as set out by Crown Counsel Toyin Salako.
He said he considered the speed to be greatly excessive for the area in which it occurred. He also noted that Domladis was under the influence of alcohol at the time, he was overtaking Mr. Quappe on the wrong side of the road, a passenger in the defendant’s car was injured, and a parked car that was hit had to be written off.
The court heard that Domladis initially claimed – falsely – that Mr. Quappe was overtaking him, causing him to brake and then skid.
A defense expert had said that Mr. Quappe’s vehicle may have been the first to lose traction, but Justice Swift regarded that was not a major factor in the case.
He considered important the fact that Domladis initially refused to provide a blood sample for testing for alcohol consumption. Apparently, the defendant was not warned of the consequences of failing to provide a sample. Some 10 hours later, he provided a sample and the alcohol reading was 0.11 per cent.
“I am entitled to find, and I do find, that his refusal to supply a specimen of blood was to avoid discovery that he was or might well have been driving while over the legal limit,” Justice Swift said.
He also listed other aspects of the case. Domladis had convictions for speeding in 2007 and 2008. At the time of this incident, his driving license was expired as was the certificate of roadworthiness for his vehicle. These facts did not contribute to the accident but they did demonstrate a willingness to ignore the law, the judge said.
He referred to the mitigation presented by Mr. Tonner, which included the fact that the two young men had been friends and Domladis showed genuine remorse.
Domladis’s mother was in court for the sentencing and left as soon as he went downstairs into the holding cells. Zak Quappe’s mother and father – musicians Barrie and Chuck Quappe – and his grandmother, Suzy Soto, were also in court to hear the sentencing.
Justice Swift commented on the generous and unselfish stance of Zak Quappe’s mother, who said in a victim impact statement that she realized the tragedy had devastated two families. In the statement, Mrs. Quappe also spoke of the pain caused by the time it took for Domladis to enter his plea – one year and four months.