A man driving over 90 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone was sentenced last week to three years, four months imprisonment for causing death by careless driving.
Dilroy Linwood-Watler of East End pleaded guilty to the charge; the victim was his brother Deuteron, who was visiting from Honduras. The incident occurred in the early hours of Saturday, Aug. 10, 2013, when the car Watler was driving collided with the seawall in the vicinity of East End Primary School.
At a pre-sentence hearing last month, defense attorney Prathna Bodden explained that the delay in dealing with the matter was due to the serious injuries that Watler sustained. Because of neurological damage, there were at one point questions as to whether he would be fit to plead, she said.
Crown counsel Scott Wainwright told Justice Charles Quin that the speed limit in the area of the crash was 25 mph. At the point of impact, there is a very slight bend in the road which Watler failed to negotiate due to his speed – calculated by an accident reconstructionist to be 91.55 mph.
Around 1 a.m. a woman driving in the area noticed a person lying on the ground with his feet on the car. She called 911 and fire officers arrived shortly after. They found someone trapped on the passenger side. By the time they could free him and get him to the hospital, he was declared dead on arrival.
Watler was in the hospital for two weeks with injuries to his head and chest. The woman who had called 911 said she had seen him at the Pirates Cove Bar around 11 p.m. drinking and dancing. Mr. Wainwright said there was no charge against Watler regarding any drinking because, due to his medical state, no blood sample was obtained. There was an open bottle or can of beer in the car, he noted.
He submitted photos of the scene and Justice Quin remarked, “It’s hardly recognizable as a car.”
There were two aggravating factors: Watler did not have a valid driver’s license; he took the vehicle without the consent of the owner.
Mitigating factors were Watler’s own serious injuries and his relationship with the brother, who was also described as his best friend. Deuteron was 26 at the time; Dilroy was 19.
Ms. Bodden accepted that her client did not have a license. She clarified, however, that the car belonged to a friend of Watler’s. He had planned to return it and he did not think his friend would object.
She said there was no direct evidence of dangerous driving, which was part of the original charge. Watler, who had no memory of the incident, offered a plea of causing death by careless driving and the Crown accepted it. The defendant was genuinely remorseful and did not know how to deal with what had happened, Ms. Bodden told the court.
In passing sentence, Justice Quin said this was a serious degree of careless driving, falling not far short of dangerous driving.
He found it “quite amazing” that Watler had survived, noting that in their efforts to save his life, the medical professionals were not concerned about his alcohol level. The quick actions of the responders to the scene may well have saved his life, the judge added.
“I accept everyone is grieving,” he said. “It is unimaginable what the parents are going through.”
Victim impact reports indicated that the mother and father were devastated: they had lost one son and the other was in prison. The judge said he was taking into account their very moving statements. The incidents had caused them significant emotional and financial stress.
Watler’s father had said he hoped the defendant would get a job after release from prison and help take care of his brother’s children.
Justice Quin emphasized the “terrifyingly excessive speed” and said Watler had shown total disregard for other road users; it was extremely fortunate that he had not collided with a vehicle or pedestrian.
With a maximum sentence of seven years, the judge said he chose five years as his starting point, partly because of the tragic circumstances. With the standard one-third discount for a guilty plea, the sentence was three years, four months.