Woman spared prison for road death

  • Crash victim: Rakai Augustus, 30, died at the scene of a road crash in a car driven by his girlfriend, Kelly-Ann Damasio. His death was the twelfth road fatality of 2017

    Crash victim: Rakai Augustus, 30, died at the scene of a road crash in a car driven by his girlfriend, Kelly-Ann Damasio. His death was the twelfth road fatality of 2017

  • Rakai Augustus and Kelly-Ann Damasio as a couple (Photograph supplied)

    Rakai Augustus and Kelly-Ann Damasio as a couple (Photograph supplied)

A woman who caused a crash that took the life of her long-term boyfriend was shown mercy by a court yesterday.

Kelly-Ann Damasio, 30, was given an 18-month suspended sentence and banned from driving for five years after she admitted causing the death of Rakai Augustus by careless driving.

Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves said: “It is always a sad case when a young person loses their life so early. It’s really sad indeed when it comes about due to the driving of loved ones.”

The court heard that Damasio and Mr Augustus, 30, went to a wedding on October 28, 2017 at the Unfinished Church in St George’s and then to a wedding party at a restaurant in the town.

The couple left the party at about 11pm and were seen on CCTV cameras walking to a car parked in Kings Square, where Damasio got into the drivers seat. The car was seen travelling high speed near the junction of York Street and Rose Hill a short time later.

Police found the car faced west in the eastbound lane of Wellington Street just past the junction with Rose Hill.

Damasio was injured in the driver’s seat and Mr Augustus was unconscious in the passenger seat. Emergency medical technicians attempted CPR and Mr Augustus was rushed to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, but he was pronounced dead at around 12.30am.

The court heard that a toxicology report carried out on Damasio after she was pulled, injured, from the driver’s seat after the crash showed she was not impaired at the time of the collision.

Keisha Bassett, Mr Augustus’s cousin, said in a victim impact statement that the deceased was a big man with an even larger heart. She said: “He was a gentle and compassionate young man. He was kind, caring, loving and a real gentleman. No one spoke ill of him.”

Ms Bassett added she and Mr Augustus were close as children and his death had devastated their family. She said she had to identify his body and break the news to his mother.

Ms Bassett added: “That moment haunts me often. It was one of the worst tasks I have ever been asked to fulfil.”

She said Mr Augustus’s mother “gave up” after his death and died herself just a few months later.

She added: “I believe Damasio owes my family a full explanation of what happened that night.

“There are so many questions I have, but I have been left to my thoughts.”

Charles Richardson, the defence counsel for Damasio, said she had contacted Mr Augustus’s family after the crash but stopped after she took legal advice.

He added alcohol had not played a part in the crash, but exhaustion could have.

Mr Richardson said: “If there is carelessness, it was in the form of fatigue. Most people don’t realise that being fatigued is worse than being impaired.

“You actually stand a better chance than when you are tired.”

He added Damasio and Mr Augustus were in a long-term, committed relationship and that she felt huge remorse.

Mr Richardson said: “In fact, she is just as grief-stricken, if not more so, than anyone else, because she does feel responsible.

“She does have to live with this for the rest of her life.”

Mr Richardson and Nicole Smith, the prosecutor, said a suspended sentence would be appropriate because of the relationship between the defendant and the victim, along with a lack of impairment.

Ms Smith added: “Having to live with the consequences of the commission of the offence in and of itself may be described as a significant sentence.”

Mr Justice Greaves said as he passed sentence: “I hope that some reconciliation is found between the defendant and the relatives of the deceased. Both suffer tremendous loss.”

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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