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Motorist seeks to overturn collision conviction

A Paget woman who ran over twin brothers in an early morning collision is seeking to overturn her conviction.

Addressing the Court of Appeal, lawyer Elizabeth Christopher said the trial judge mistakenly told the jury they could convict 51-year-old Tracey Pitt if they found she had a “momentary lapse”.

Ms Christopher said that in order for a person to be convicted of causing injury by reckless driving, there must be a wilful element to their actions.

“The question was whether or not she foresaw that whatever it was she did wrong would lead to an accident, i.e., striking a couple of 30-year-old men laying in the road at 2am,” Ms Christopher said.

Pitt, an assistant auditor general, was convicted last year of causing grievous bodily harm to 36-year-old Rudolph and Randolph Smith, but was acquitted of the more serious offence of causing grievous bodily harm by impaired driving.

The Forensic expert testified that at around 2.20am on January 29, 2012, the twins were sitting, stooping or laying in the southbound lane of Woodlands Road, near the junction with Canal Road, when they were struck by Pitt's car. They were then caught beneath the vehicle and dragged more than 40 feet before it came to a complete stop suffering serious injuries.

Pitt admitted having two glasses of red wine at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess in the evening before the collision but repeatedly denied being impaired.

She told the court that while driving along Woodlands Road her vision was affected by glare from the headlights of a passing vehicle. She then felt an impact and brought her car to a stop.

Pitt was convicted following a Supreme Court trial and was subsequently sentenced to three months in prison, but is currently appealing both her conviction and her sentence.

Ms Christopher said the area of the collision was dark when the accident took place and that her client had been blinded by the lights of a passing vehicle. Although she did not mention glare to officers at the scene of the offence, Ms Christopher said witness Mihn Do said he drove through the area with his “main headlights” on.

She also noted that there was no evidence before the court at all that Pitt had been speeding, and in fact forensic experts had found she was likely travelling below the speed limit when she struck the twins.

Ms Christopher said the only evidence of “reckless driving” put before the court was that Pitt had two glasses of wine earlier that evening, but the jury had found she was not impaired.

Prosecutor Nicole Smith, however, argued that negligence on the part of a driver can also constitute “recklessness”.

“It's the Crown's submission that recklessness is not just a positive action,” she said. “It's also in fact the lack of action or the lack of a particular behaviour or conduct.”

She said that the area was well lit by street lights at the time of the crash and with the layout of the road Pitt should have been able to see two grown men in the road from a distance away.

“She had to have been wilfully blind. If she had kept a look out the way she should have done there would have been no collision,” she said. “Even if the jury did accept the submission of some glare, she didn't take the necessary precautions which she should have taken before continuing on her way if the glare had been that bad.”

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Published March 20, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated March 20, 2014 at 12:48 am)

Motorist seeks to overturn collision conviction

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