Six years for causing 127-mph road death

Sentence will be appealed, defense attorney confirms

Jessie Perry
Jessie Perry

Conroy Warrenton Nairne, 33, was sentenced on Friday to six years’ imprisonment for causing the death of 21-year-old Jessie Perry by dangerous driving in September 2015.

Justice Marlene Carter reviewed the undisputed facts before passing sentence. Nairne had been driving at 127 mph when his Audi hit the curb at a bend in the road by Public Beach on West Bay Road and became airborne.

The Audi collided with boulders and a traffic sign and was approximately 14 feet in the air when it hit a tree by the beach. The Audi burst into flames and landed on its roof, with the two occupants inside. Witnesses pulled them from the car and called 911, tending to them until the emergency medical team arrived and took over.

Ms. Perry, a mother of one who was celebrating her 21st birthday, was Nairne’s passenger. She sustained second- and third-degree burns over 80 percent of her body. She was airlifted to a specialist burns unit in Jamaica, where she died from her injuries on Sept. 21, one week after the collision.

Justice Carter pointed out that West Bay Road is one of the busiest in the Cayman Islands, even at 1:30 a.m., when this incident occurred, because of the hotels and restaurants there.

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She referred to the aggravating features cited by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran at the sentencing hearing last month. They included a prolonged course of bad driving (captured by CCTV cameras along West Bay Road), and Nairne’s disregard for the rules of the road.

When interviewed by police in February 2016, Nairne said he was driving at or near the speed limit of 40 mph and when he applied his brakes, they failed. However, examination of the vehicle afterward showed that the brakes had been in working condition.

Justice Carter quoted Justice Charles Quin, who said that a speed of 92 mph in another road death case was “terrifyingly excessive” and nobody should be driving that speed anywhere in Cayman.

In Nairne’s case, the 127 mph was more than triple the posted limit of 40 mph, she pointed out. This flagrant violation had to be one of the most serious instances of bad driving locally, she indicated.

The judge accepted that Nairne’s remorse was sincere. He had been in a close relationship with Ms. Perry. It was to his credit that Ms. Perry’s mother and brother had written letters asking that he not be sent to prison. He had been providing financial support for Ms. Perry’s child. Nairne himself had been injured in the incident.

The maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 10 years, the judge noted, with a starting point of six years and a range of five to nine years. She said Nairne’s speed warranted an increase in the starting point to eight years.

She said Nairne’s allegation about his brakes had caused her some concern since there were no mechanical defects in the vehicle before the crash. She considered the other aspects of the case and found that the aggravating features outweighed the mitigation.

On that basis, she gave a discount of 25 percent for Nairne’s guilty plea, bringing the sentence down from eight years to six.

Nairne is to be disqualified from driving for five years after release from prison, she added.

After court adjourned, defense attorney Nicholas Dixey confirmed that the sentence will be challenged in the Court of Appeal.

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