Twenty-four days after receiving a suspended sentence for traffic offenses, a man got into a car and broke seven more laws before being caught. The sequence of events led to 18 months’ imprisonment for 25-year-old Javon Eric Burke of Bodden Town.
“It’s a miracle no one was killed,” Magistrate Adam Roberts told Burke on Tuesday. “You are a menace. You need to be off the road and away from society.”
He imposed a total of nine months’ imprisonment for offenses on Oct. 23, 2015. That was 24 days after he had imposed sentences totaling nine months for previous traffic offenses. The magistrate said he had initially given Burke a chance by imposing a suspended sentence supervision order because Burke was then 23 and had a young child.
He said he told Burke at the time that he had reached a point where prison was the correct sentence and if Burke breached it, he should have no doubt he would be sent to prison.
The breach was detailed this week by Crown counsel Gavin Dixon.
Mr. Dixon said police officers were conducting a traffic check at the East-West Arterial when the vehicle driven by Burke slowed down as it approached around 9:14 a.m. An officer gave a hand signal for the car to stop. Instead, it turned counter-clockwise on the roundabout, against the traffic. Other officers were alerted and pursued him in their cars, using flashing lights and sirens.
The vehicle exceeded 80 mph in the lane of oncoming traffic, causing five vehicles to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
The vehicle then went onto Poindexter Road, almost colliding with another car. It continued through various streets, going 60 mph in 25-mph zones, before stopping at a residence. Burke ran from the car, went through some bush and then jumped into a canal, swimming across to Patrick’s Island, where he was apprehended.
Defense attorney John Furniss agreed that Burke did fall afoul of the suspended sentence. “He was driving when he should not have been. He had gone out to collect money owed to him,” the attorney explained.
When Burke came to the roadblock, he “unfortunately” sped off and the chase took place, Mr. Furniss said.
He reminded the court of Burke’s immediate guilty pleas and references from people who spoke of him as a good and caring father. In view of these factors and Burke’s “improved lifestyle,” Mr. Furniss suggested that the magistrate could hand down a partially or fully suspended sentence.
The suggestion was not accepted.
For dangerous driving, the magistrate handed down a sentence of nine months. Other sentences were made to run concurrently: driving while disqualified, nine months; dangerous driving (speed), six months; driving without insurance, six months; taking and driving a conveyance without the consent of the owner, three months; failing to comply with a signal from an officer in uniform, three months; using a vehicle required to be licensed, three months.
The magistrate imposed various concurrent terms of disqualification from driving, the longest being five years for driving while disqualified. He said Burke would have to retake the driving test before he can hold a license again.