Anastasia Watson appeared in Grand Court on Thursday for sentencing on a charge of causing death by careless driving. The deceased was her friend Kimberly Bush, who was a passenger in the BMW that Ms. Watson was driving in the early hours of April 15, 2015.
Ms. Watson was 22 at the time. Ms. Bush, also known as Kimberly McLaughlin, was 23.
Defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene told the court that her client could not remember the incident and believed she had “blacked out” before her car collided with a pillar and wall.
The attorney advised that Ms. Watson had said that was how she had reacted in the past when she had been through traumatic situations.
Ms. Fosuhene said Ms. Watson had acknowledged driving slightly faster than the 50 mph limit, but not at the speed the expert had calculated. She suggested that the additional speed may have been the result of the blackout, increasing the pressure of her foot on the accelerator.
Justice Philip St. John-Stevens referred to Crown counsel Scott Wainwright’s summary of the accident. Mr. Wainwright had told the court that an accident reconstructionist calculated Ms. Watson’s speed as 80.24 mph; the highest (critical curve) speed at which the slight bend in the road could be negotiated was 69.56 mph.
The judge said he was troubled by the broad assertion that the defendant had blacked out and had not been going that fast before the accident. “As a plank of mitigation, it troubles me because without evidence I question whether I can accept that assertion,” he said.
Ms. Fosuhene pointed out that her client had told police at the scene that she must have blacked out. “I asked why she said that. She said that is what used to happen when she was young. That is the only explanation she can offer.”
The judge asked if there was any medical evidence. Ms. Fosuhene said the doctor cannot say if someone blacked out and she was not in a position to call any evidence on the point.
Ms. Fosuhene referred to reports that Ms. Watson had been arrested on suspicion of causing death by drunk driving. Ms. Watson did have one drink early in the evening, she said, but when breathalyzed, the result was under the legal limit.
Justice St. John Stevens asked about photographs or sketches of the accident scene and whether any skid marks could be seen. Mr. Wainwright confirmed that they were available and would be delivered to the judge.
Sentencing was adjourned, but will take place before the judge leaves Cayman on Feb. 23.