An Audi A4 was traveling at approximately 127 miles per hour on West Bay Road when it collided with a curb, crashed and burst into flames, causing the death of 21-year-old Jessie Perry in September 2015.
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran provided that information on Friday as he summed up the evidence in the Crown’s case against Conroy Warrenton Nairne, 33, who pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving.
Justice Marlene Carter set sentencing for Aug. 3. She said she thought that dangerous driving had recently reached “a certain prominence, unfortunately.” For that reason, she wanted to take time to consider the matter and put her comments in writing, she said.
Nairne was allowed to remain on bail until then.
Mr. Moran said Nairne was driving north on West Bay Road around 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 14, 2015, with Ms. Perry, a mother of one, as his passenger. As the road curved to the right in the area of the Public Beach, the vehicle collided with the curb and became airborne. It collided with boulders and a traffic sign, and was still approximately 14 feet in the air when it hit a tree. The Audi burst into flames and came to rest on its roof, with both occupants still inside.
Mr. Moran said several people witnessed the collision and called emergency services. Meanwhile, the occupants were pulled from the vehicle.
“Ms. Perry was engulfed in flames and she was in severe distress,” Mr. Moran told the court. “The flames were extinguished and she lay on the ground being tended to by a passerby until the emergency services arrived and took over. The defendant received a number of burns to his body, but he was able to remain standing.”
Mr. Moran paid tribute to the people who had helped at the scene. “The passersby who were present at the scene, including Scott Ruby, Lucy Collyer and Taylor Ribbins, acted selflessly. Despite the fact that several explosions were heard to come from the burning vehicle, they continued to tend to the occupants nearby until the emergency services arrived,” he said.
Ms. Perry had second- and third-degree burns to 80 percent of her body, Mr. Moran reported. She was airlifted to a specialist burns unit in Jamaica. She succumbed to her injuries on Sept. 21, 2015.
Nairne was interviewed by police on Feb. 1, 2016 on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. He said he and Ms. Perry had been to a party that night, that it was her birthday, and they had gone out for a drive. He claimed he was driving at or near the speed limit and the brakes had failed when he tried to apply them as he reached Public Beach.
CCTV footage obtained from cameras on West Bay Road showed that the Audi was being driven at 104 mph between two points along the way. It slowed to 52 mph in the area of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, where it overtook the truck driven by Mr. Ruby, after which it must have accelerated again, Mr. Moran said.
Analysis of the evidence established that the Audi had been traveling approximately 127 mph when it collided with the curb at Public Beach. The speed limit in the area is 40 mph; the critical curve speed was calculated at 43.4 mph.
An expert who examined the vehicle said there were no mechanical defects and the brakes were working at the time of the collision.
Nairne was charged in March 2017. The case went to Grand Court in May, and he pleaded guilty in June.
Meanwhile, Mr. Moran related, Ms. Perry’s mother wrote a letter to the court in November 2015, requesting leniency for Nairne. She advised that he was providing financial support for Ms. Perry’s child. She said he was very upset by the death of Ms. Perry, who was described as the love of his life. She said Nairne was of good character and a criminal prosecution would not bring her daughter back to life.
Defense attorney Nicholas Dixey described the incident as heartbreaking and deeply distressing. “They were in a close relationship and envisioned a future together,” he said of the defendant and Ms. Perry.
He suggested that it had taken time for Nairne to come to terms with his behavior – “perhaps a human reaction to not want to face the truth when something so terrible has happened.”
Mr. Dixey urged the court to accept that there were no aggravating features except the speed. There was no evidence of alcohol or drug use, no racing, no attempt to elude police, he pointed out.
The feature was far outweighed by the mitigation – Nairne’s own serious injuries, his deep remorse, the close relationship he had been in with Ms. Perry and his lack of previous convictions.
The attorney suggested a sentence starting point of four years, with reductions for all the mitigation and discount for the guilty plea, to result in a term of 18 months’ imprisonment.
As Mr. Moran pointed out, the maximum in Cayman is 10 years. He submitted that Nairne had engaged in a prolonged course of driving, covering 3.3 kilometers (2 miles) before the collision, and he must have been aware of the risk he posed to others, especially at night. He also pointed to Nairne’s initial attempt to avoid blame.