Lawyer gets three years for crash that injured two tourists

Simon Courtney and his wife Elle arrive at court this week. Judge Malcolm Swift sentenced Courtney to three years in prison on Thursday. - PHOTO: MATT LAMERS

Corporate lawyer Simon Courtney was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison after a judge condemned his “shameful” behavior in the aftermath of a crash that left two tourists seriously injured.

Justice Malcolm Swift said Courtney, 50, had “tried to evade responsibility at every turn” since losing control of his high-powered sports car and injuring Richard and Kathy Schubert outside the Villas of the Galleon in January last year.

He said evidence suggested Courtney had drunk “the better part of an entire bottle” of champagne before getting behind the wheel of his Mustang Shelby GT 500. He said the lawyer fled the scene and hid from police for 12 hours to avoid a blood-alcohol test before turning himself in. He was found guilty of reckless driving and causing grievous bodily harm after a trial last month.

Handing down the sentence Thursday morning, Justice Swift said Courtney told a “wicked lie” when he claimed during trial that he had been the “first responder” to come to the aid of the victims.

“The conduct of your defense has done you no credit,” Justice Swift said. “You have suggested the witnesses to these events, even those who rushed to the aid of the victims, have not told the truth.

“You have tried to evade your responsibility for these events at every turn. Whatever may be said about your glittering career in the law, your behavior in this case has been shameful.”

Justice Swift said Mr. Schubert, who broke every bone in his face in the incident, would be in pain for the rest of his life. He said the 71-year-old may have succumbed to his injuries if bystanders had not come to his aid.

“I dread to think what the consequences would have been for them if this accident had occurred on a more remote part of the island in the absence of witnesses willing to rush to their side and call emergency services,” the judge said. “It is clear you would have fled and left your victims lying in the road.”

During the trial, Courtney said he had suffered a concussion that prevented him from thinking clearly in the aftermath of the accident, claiming he woke up on a golf course early the next morning.

Justice Swift said that despite a “determined search,” the lawyer had been unable to find any medical expert willing to support his claim.

He said Courtney had simply hidden from police to avoid facing a blood-alcohol test. “I have no doubt, whatsoever, that you were worse for drink,” the judge said. “You have cynically prevented this court from knowing the truth about your blood-alcohol level.”

The court previously heard that Courtney had accelerated rapidly in the car as he left The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, reaching an estimated speed of 39 miles per hour when he struck the two pedestrians. Though he was not over the 40 mph speed limit, an accident reconstructionist gave his opinion at trial that Courtney should have applied the throttle more gently in the wet conditions.

During sentencing submissions Wednesday, defense counsel Laurence Aiolfi asked for a non-custodial sentence, saying Courtney’s wife Elle depended on him “emotionally and financially” and suffered from health issues that made her vulnerable to stressful circumstances. He said his client had applied for permanent residence and that would now be in jeopardy.

Justice Swift said he sympathized with Mrs. Courtney, who would need her family and friends more than ever.

He sentenced Courtney to three years in prison and a five-year driving ban.