Man pleads guilty in driving death of cyclist

Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Kirzner’s damaged bike lies on the side of the road on North Church Street after the fatal hit-and-run incident.
Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Kirzner, died in April after being struck by a car while riding his bicycle to work.

Wilfred Ellington Myles pleaded guilty in Grand Court Friday to causing death by dangerous driving and a host of other charges in relation to the death of cyclist Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Kirzner in April.

Myles, 29, also pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, taking and driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent and driving a car without insurance or a certificate of roadworthiness.

He pleaded not guilty to causing death while driving under the influence of alcohol.

The maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving in Cayman is 10 years. Myles could get as much as a one-third reduction on his sentence by virtue of pleading guilty early in the process.

The court heard Friday that Myles was operating a GMC Yukon on the wrong side of North Church Street in George Town on 15 April when he struck and killed Kirzner, who had been cycling to work. Kirzner was riding along the left-hand edge of the northbound lane when he was struck. Images of the incident were captured on CCTV.

Crown counsel Scott Wainwright said that accident reconstructionists estimate that Myles was driving 41 miles an hour in a 25-mph zone, but he also noted that the car’s instruments indicate he could have been driving as fast as 48 mph. Myles, who was driving his partner’s car without her permission, did not stop at the scene of the accident. He drove home and called his father, telling him that he needed help.

The defendant’s partner overheard his conversation and called police, and Myles was arrested shortly thereafter. Police indicated that he smelled of liquor and had slurred speech. Myles took a blood-alcohol test that indicated a 0.256 reading, which is more than twice the legal limit of 0.10.

Some of Kirzner’s family were in the courtroom on Friday, and Wainwright read excerpts from a victim impact letter they had written on his behalf. Kirzner, who had turned 22 just nine days before his death, was said to be a hard worker who wanted to bring his family and girlfriend to live in Cayman.

“His brother misses him dearly,” said Wainwright while summarising the details of the family’s letter to the court. “His mother and father are broken at heart.”

Wainwright also summarised the defendant’s criminal history.

Myles had been convicted of 26 previous offences, including multiple cases of driving under the influence and one of failure to provide a specimen. Myles had his driving licence suspended twice previously and breached a curfew ordered by the court on the night of the accident.

Myles was living under a suspended sentence of six months’ imprisonment at the time of his offence.

Defence counsel Prathna Bodden said that many of the facts of the case were agreed. Myles had very little recollection of the accident, she said, and did not immediately realise he had hit somebody.

Bodden stressed that he immediately told the responding officers that he had been driving the car that night and that he later indicated he would plead guilty at the earliest possible moment.

Myles was in the early stages of undergoing rehabilitation for an addiction to alcohol before the accident, she said, and he had provided a negative test of alcohol to the court in March. Bodden also said that Myles had written a letter to the victim’s family on his own initiative.

“If he could swap places with their son, he would do it in a heartbeat,” said Bodden of the letter from Myles. “The letter is true. It is genuine.”

Justice Roger Chapple said that imposing sentence on a charge of causing death by dangerous driving is one of the most difficult exercises that a judge can undertake. The judge acknowledged the presence of the victim’s family and said he would try to have the sentencing process finished within two weeks.

“I bear in mind the public’s understandable outrage,” said Justice Chapple.

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