Cayman Brac man sentenced for fatal traffic accident

Cayman’s courts have ramped up their emergency contingency plan to counter COVID-19 issues.
Cayman’s courts have ramped up their emergency contingency plan to counter COVID-19 issues.

Paul Mannix Scott, of Cayman Brac, was sentenced to more than three years in jail for a 2018 accident that claimed the life of a 51-year-old nurse.

Shortly after 11pm on 27 Feb., 2018, on the Brac, Scott’s car veered into the opposite lane while travelling around Tibbetts Turn along Bight Road and collided head-on with Sharon Clarke’s SUV.

The court on Monday heard that moments before the collision, Scott had taken his eyes off the road to switch a song on his phone. Experts for the prosecution and the defence counsel have agreed that the cause of the accident was that Scott’s car lost traction on the road, but they differed in their assessments of Scott’s speed at the time of the collision.

The prosecution’s expert placed the Integra’s speed at 69.48 miles per hour, while the defence submitted the speed was closer to 50 mph, which was the number that the speedometer was stuck on following the accident.

“This is a sad case,” said Justice Philip St. John-Stevens when handing down his ruling. “It has had an impact on the lives of the victim’s family, and indeed it has had a ripple effect on the lives of the defendant and his family.”

Scott pleaded guilty on 22 Feb. last year to a single charge of causing death by dangerous driving, for which he was given full credit as part of his sentencing.

St. John-Stevens noted there were two issues of excessive speeding that surrounded the accident.

“Firstly, the speed limit was in excess of the 40-mile zone,” said the judge. “Secondly, there was a sign that said reduce speed now, meaning to reduce the speed from the maximum 40 miles per hour.”

St. John-Stevens also noted Scott had expressed true remorse via letters he had written to Clarke’s family and to the court. However, he also added that there were several aggravating factors in the case.

Shortly after the accident, officers who attended the scene smelt alcohol on Scott. CCTV footage would later reveal that on the night of the accident Scott had consumed six beers and two shots.

“This is the case of a 39-year-old man, who chose to drink, and then chose to drive, and while doing so chose to change the music on his phone,” said St. John-Stevens. “I also note previous history of the defendant. Mr. Scott has previously been convicted of charges of careless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol.”

After awarding a one-third discount, and weighing the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, St. John-Stevens imposed a sentence of three years and three months. Scott surrendered his driver’s licence when he pleaded guilty in 2019. The judge increased the mandatory five-year disqualification for a person convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, to six years.

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  1. Given all the circumstances this sentence is a travesty, Scott should have been given 10 years. He will probably be out in two years. The law needs to be changed as in cases like this a guilty plea should never permit a one third discount. His letters of remorse no doubt were designed to augment his “mitigating circumstances”. Clearly previous convictions of careless driving and driving under the influence had no effect on this man and the only way to stop him is to lock him up for a long time, a driving ban will make no difference.