Anastasia Watson was sentenced on Friday to 12 months immediate custody for causing the death of Kimberly Bush, who was a passenger in the BMW Ms. Watson was driving in the early hours of April 15, 2015.
Defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene confirmed afterward that the sentence would be appealed. An application for bail pending appeal has been set for Wednesday, Feb. 28.
Ms. Watson pleaded guilty in August last year to causing death by careless driving. Ms. Fosuhene subsequently 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 Philip St. John-Stevens heard facts and mitigation on Feb. 1 and he adjourned the matter, inviting Ms. Fosuhene and Crown counsel Scott Wainwright to submit further material about the case if they wished to do so.
On Friday, the judge said this case illustrated the tragic consequences of excessive speed. Ms. Watson’s car had crashed into a wall in a 50-mph zone along Rum Point Road in North Side. An accident reconstructionist had 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.
Justice St. John Stevens said there were no other aggravating circumstances, except that Ms. Watson did have a conviction for speeding in 2013.
He pointed out that she was familiar with the road, so she was not taken by surprise by its conditions. He said her offense was not the result of momentary inattention; it was the result of excessive speed, and it fell within the most serious category of causing death by careless driving – not far from causing death by dangerous driving.
He accepted mitigating factors: the social inquiry report detailed Ms. Watson’s difficult childhood and the process by which she was maturing into a caring and positive individual. He had received compelling insight from two people who came to court to give an oral reference. He accepted her remorse was genuine. He said he had reflected carefully on the powerful effect on the defendant of having caused the death of a close friend.
At the time of the crash, Ms. Bush was 23 and Ms. Watson was 22.
The judge had been advised that he had no power to suspend a sentence of imprisonment for this offense and he accepted there were sentences other than immediate imprisonment that he could impose.
For this case, however, he concluded there had to be a term of imprisonment: “No other sentence could be justified,” he said.
He arrived at the 12-month term after saying he gave a one-third discount for the defendant’s guilty plea at the first opportunity.