A driver was sentenced on Tuesday to 10 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving.
Fitzroy Marvin Roache was driving a truck for which he was not licensed when it collided with a taxi van driven by Beverley Ramsay around 6 a.m. on Oct. 16, 2012.
The collision occurred along the Esterley Tibbetts Highway when Roache’s truck went across the center line and into Mrs. Ramsay’s lane.
Roache had said he was blinded by the lights of her vehicle. But Justice Alastair Malcolm cited accident investigation reports that showed the van’s headlights were dipped and not on high beam.
Roache also denied dozing off while driving after working until 1:30 a.m. and then sleeping in the truck.
There was no evidence to show that Roache did doze off, the judge pointed out. All that could be said was that he paid no attention to drifting into the other lane and Roache made no attempt to correct the truck’s direction.
Accident reports indicated that Mrs. Ramsay was not speeding; in fact, speed played no part in this accident.
The truck hit the front of the van on the driver’s side. After the impact, both vehicles spun in a clockwise direction and the truck ended up on its side.
Roache tried to assist Mrs. Ramsay and waited at the scene until authorities arrived. He was given a breathalyzer test, which proved negative. He had two phones on him, but a check showed they were not in use at the time of the collision.
Justice Malcolm quoted from a victim impact statement, which described Mrs. Ramsay as the glue that had held her family together. She and her husband had been married for 30 years. She had six children and seven grandchildren. Her death had left a void that could not be filled.
Mrs. Ramsay had driven a taxi for 25 years and had maintained a clean license her whole career.
The judge noted that the maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving is seven years. In this case, he found that the appropriate sentence was 15 months. Then he considered credit for the guilty plea. Defense attorney Dennis Brady had asked for a full one-third discount.
The indictment against Roach was laid in January 2013 and he did not plead guilty until September 2015, which Mr. Brady described as the defendant’s first opportunity to enter a plea.
Justice Malcolm said a layman might wonder how two years and four months might be a first opportunity.
A family member had decried the time lapse and did not accept that he could not have admitted his guilt earlier.
The judge referred to Mr. Brady’s submission that an accident report from the defense expert had not been received until August 2015. The attorney had previously made the court aware of reasons for the delay.
Justice Malcolm urged all attorneys to keep in mind the effects of delay.
In this case, he granted the full one-third discount, taking the final sentence to 10 months.
He said he considered suspending the sentence, but this was not an appropriate case to do so.
He disqualified Roache from driving for three years.
The guilty plea to driving the truck without the correct group license for the size and weight of the truck was an aggravating factor in the causing death offense, he said, however he did not impose any separate penalty.