Nicholas Patrick Tibbetts, who completed a prison sentence for causing death by careless driving, received an absolute discharge on Tuesday for the related offense of leaving the scene of an accident.
Immigration officer Tibbetts, 26, appeared in Traffic Court before Magistrate Adam Roberts. The magistrate asked defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene what had happened with Tibbetts’s matter in the Grand Court.
Ms. Fosuhene replied that the defendant had pleaded guilty. The charge was causing the death of Donnie Ray Connor, 59, by driving carelessly on along the Linford Pierson Highway on April 23, 2015.
She explained that Tibbetts had since served his sentence of three-and-a-half months. She said the sentencing judge, Dame Linda Dobbs, had taken into consideration the aggravating factor that Tibbetts had left the scene. Further, she noted, the judge had commented that the prosecution “would take a view” of the charge of leaving the scene.
“The prosecution has taken the view that they will not take a view,” she added.
Leaving the scene of an accident without reasonable excuse is a category C offense in the Traffic Law, meaning it can be heard only in the Summary Court.
The magistrate put the charge to Tibbetts – that he unlawfully left the scene of an accident that occurred on Linford Pierson Highway in the vicinity of Halifax Drive on April 23, 2015, without reasonable cause for leaving.
Tibbetts replied, “Guilty.”
The magistrate then told Tibbetts he would give him an absolute discharge.
Cayman’s Criminal Procedure Code gives a court the discretion to make an order discharging an accused person absolutely if it is of the view that it is not expedient to inflict any punishment.
The U.K. Sentencing Council, frequently cited in Cayman cases, explains that an absolute discharge means that the court has taken the decision not to impose punishment. However, the offender still gets a criminal record.
After dealing with the matter, the magistrate told Crown counsel Garth Dixon he was sure that Mr. Dixon did not make the decision to proceed with this case, “but it’s ridiculous.”
Ms. Fosuhene had further advised the court that the sentencing judge had taken into account the 19 months Tibbetts spent wearing an electronic monitor.
The starting point for the sentence was 12 months imprisonment, with discount for a guilty plea taking it to eight months. Partial credit for the time Tibbetts’s liberty was curtailed reduced the sentence further to three-and-a-half months.
As previously reported, Tibbetts had told police when interviewed that he had no recollection of the incident, saying he must have fallen asleep at the wheel.
CCTV from a gas station had shown him making repairs to the car shortly after the incident. Tibbetts said he only realized he was in an accident when he was by the Country and Western Bar on Crewe Road.
In her sentencing remarks on Dec. 16, Dame Dobbs said she found it hard to believe that Tibbetts had slept through the incident. She said the impact of Mr. Connor hitting the car and being carried on its bonnet and the sound of his bicycle being dragged beneath the car “would have woken the dead.”
The Crown has been asked whether the sentence will be appealed as unduly lenient, but as of press time there was no reply.