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Woman wins appeal against driving conviction

A woman convicted of driving without due care has had her conviction quashed after an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Julia Cabral was found guilty in Magistrates' Court in May, but Chief Justice Ian Kawaley found the magistrate had not properly detailed his reasons for dismissing her version of events.

During the initial trial, the court heard she had been involved in a collision at the junction of Middle Road and Longford Road in Warwick, on November 11, 2014.

The other rider testified that Ms Cabral had turned suddenly into his lane. He claimed that after the crash, she had said: “Oh my God, I didn't see you, you came out of nowhere.”

Ms Cabral, however, gave another version of events, stating that she had come to a complete stop at the junction and had started to pull out when she saw the other motorist approaching at high speed.

She testified that the other rider appeared to panic, causing the vehicle to wobble and crash into her.

While the magistrate ruled against Ms Cabral, she subsequently appealed the decision, with lawyer Richard Horseman arguing that it was unclear how the magistrate had resolved the conflicted evidence.

In a Supreme Court ruling, dated December 4, Dr Justice Kawaley wrote: “The crux of the present case, it seems to me, lies in the fact that you had two conflicting eyewitness accounts of an incident which was advanced by witnesses who were not explicitly recorded by the learned magistrate as being anything less than generally credible.

“In those circumstances, it seems to me the appellant is entitled to understand clearly why it is, bearing in mind the criminal burden and standard of proof on the prosecution, that her evidence was rejected.

“This was not in my judgment the sort of case where it is self-evident precisely why it is that a defendant's evidence was rejected.

“Typically when a defendant's evidence is rejected there is some explanation, even a brief one, as to why it is that the defendant has not raised a reasonable doubt.

“In this case the appellant gave a coherent account which, if accepted, would have entitled her to be acquitted and which, on its face, was capable of raising at least a reasonable doubt.

“The decision that was rendered does not to my mind adequately explain why it is that her evidence was rejected out of hand.”

The Chief Justice ruled that the magistrate had failed to give adequate reasons for his decision by not setting out explicitly what his findings were for crucial matters in the case.

As a result, Dr Justice Kawaley quashed both the conviction and the sentence.

• It is The Royal Gazette's policy not to allow comments on stories regarding criminal 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.

Court ruling: Chief Justice Ian Kawaley (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published December 29, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 28, 2015 at 11:50 pm)

Woman wins appeal against driving conviction

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