Trucker convicted of causing model’s death
A truck driver was found guilty yesterday of causing the death of a 21-year-old model by careless driving.
Clinton Smith, 41, was convicted on a majority verdict by a Supreme Court jury of killing Sophie Fraser-Smith last year. The verdict came after a trial in which the prosecution accused Smith of fabricating a steering problem with his Dunkley’s Dairy truck.
Smith claimed that he had “dozed off” at the wheel but woke while he was still in his lane. He told the court that the truck, registered HC043, did not respond to steering input and there was nothing he could do to avoid the collision. The crash happened on July 18 last year, the day of the General Election, on Middle Road, Southampton.
Smith insisted during the trial that he had reported a steering fault to his employer on several occasions during his stint at the company from May to July last year.
But Nicole Smith, for the prosecution, told the court: “His rationale and explanation as to how the collision occurred is illogical, nonsensical and it just doesn’t make sense.”
She added: “He did not highlight a steering problem with HC043 because there was no steering problem with HC043.”
Ms Smith argued that Smith was an experienced truck driver who was familiar with Bermuda’s roads and she questioned why he would continue driving the vehicle if there was a problem.
She also pointed out that none of the witnesses could recall Smith making a complaint about the steering. Ms Smith added: “Convenient, is it not, that this steering problem only happened when the defendant was leaving Dockyard?”
“It is a fabrication and it’s preposterous to expect us to believe that this is the only time this loose steering came about.”
Ms Smith also pointed out that experts had found no problem with the truck’s steering after the collision.
And she questioned why Mr Smith had not included the fault on a vehicle-repair request form he had filled out a day before the crash.
Elizabeth Christopher, defence lawyer, urged the jury in her closing speech to find her client, who told the court he had not driven since the accident, not guilty.
She said it was “obvious” that there were problems with the steering based on entries in a day-to-day diary kept by Dunkley’s Dairy mechanic Richard Thompson.
Ms Christopher also noted evidence from Sergeant Olasunkanmi Akinmola, a police traffic collision investigator, who told the court there were no visible signs of braking on the road.
Mr Smith had told the court that he did not brake because he wanted to get out of the westbound lane to avoid hitting the car behind Ms Fraser-Smith.
Ms Christopher added: “I believe he was trying to do the right thing in the circumstances that were thrust upon him.
“He made what he thought was the correct decision.”
Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe adjourned the case until Friday, when a sentencing date will be set. Smith was remanded in custody.
• It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.
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