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Judge Errol Thomas,lawyers and other officials at the opening of Law Year
Judge Errol Thomas,lawyers and other officials at the opening of Law Year

A moving plea in mitigation by lawyer Kondwani Williams and the trial judge's need to send the message to drivers to be careful resulted in 34-year old Layne Orlando Royer of Massacre being fined $15,000 to be paid in six months or, in default, to two years in prison.

A jury of seven women and two men on Tuesday February 2, 2016 at the Roseau High Court found Royer guilty of causing the death of 40-year old Samuel Alie alias Blanc by reckless driving on Goodwill Road on Saturday morning August 11, 2012. The trial lasted five working days before resident judge Errol Thomas.

Director of Public Prosecutions Evelina Baptiste prosecuted the case for the State while Williams conducting the defence.

According to the State's evidence, Alie left work about 6:00am. He had crossed the north to south lane and was the traffic island before crossing over to the seaside of the south-to-north lane when Royer who was travelling southerly towards Roseau evaded a white vehicle going right, was confronted by a light pole, pulled farther right into the south-north roadway and hit Alie.

Alie was sent flying in the air several feet from the ground and landed about 91 feet from where he was struck. The black jeep, driven by Royer, stopped across the road on the seaside from E H Charles business premises.

Before sentencing on Friday February 19, 2016 Williams addressed the judge. He began with a brief biography of Royer – age, parents, education, qualifications, work experience up to his period (eight years) as a Customs Officer and his exemplary skills as the father of two children aged 5 and 3 years.

Up that accident he was of good character with an unblemished record. Williams added that Royer had been sorry from Alie's death and had not failed to show remorse for causing the death of the pedestrian.

According to Williams, Royer had suffered great emotional trauma and much tribulation as a result of the accident and had suffered sleepless nights as a consequence. The relationship with his children's mother had ended, stated Williams, and she had indicated that he had spoken of taking his life.

Williams also conceded that the death of Samuel Alie had impacted his family severely, the mother of the deceased having since passed on. One brother told a Social Welfare worker that he hoped Royer had learnt from this experience and what he made of it was his business and he would have no difficulty with whatever sentence the court imposed.

Williams went on to ask the court not to impose a custodial sentence because he was not certain that a term of imprisonment would result in any deterring effect.

"I plead to the court to extend great leniency to Mr Royer," Williams said.

He suggested a fine so that Royer would be allowed to get on with his life.

The Judge began by noting that he needed to strike a balance in this case because someone died in the accident. He said he had to look at the nature of the crime, its background, manner of execution, the maximum sentence, the social standing of the accused, principles of sentencing – deterrence, retribution, reformation and protection of society, the aggravating and mitigating factors and plea in mitigation, among others.

On the principle of deterrence, he said the traffic ordinance was there to make all public roads safe and for the protection of society. The court also had to ensure that all sentences imposed were appropriate but he would not impose a custodial sentence.

After noting sentences for similar offences in the Eastern Caribbean and Dominica, Justice Thomas imposed a fine of $15,000 to be paid in six months or to two years in prison in default. His driver's licence was also revoked for six months.

The judge added that the fine was a deterrent noting the absence of speed limits on Goodwill Road or the highway under the Canefield cliffs.