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Woman jailed over death of motorcyclist

A 55-year-old woman who killed a young man after she crashed into the back of his motorbike was jailed yesterday for three months.

Margaret DeSilva accidentally pushed down on the accelerator at the same time as the brake pedal after hitting Jokeem Richardson from behind and crushed him against the back of a truck.

DeSilva apologised to Mr Richardson's family seated in the public gallery of the Supreme Court before she was sentenced and banned from driving for five years by Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe.

Mr Justice Wolffe said the standard of driving on the island's roads was “horrendous” but that DeSilva's driving was at the lower end of the culpability range.

But he added that despite her guilty plea, remorse and lack of previous convictions he found no reason to suspend the prison sentence.

Mr Justice Wolffe said: “A message must be sent to all road users that there are consequences for their bad driving.” The court heard that Mr Richardson had been driving behind a flatbed truck on Blue Hole Hill in Hamilton Parish on the afternoon of May 10 last year, with DeSilva behind him in her car.

Prosecutor Nicole Smith explained that the truck stopped close to the entrance to Grotto Bay.

She said: “The defendant collided with the rear of the bike and pushed it into the rear of the flatbed truck.

“The driver of the truck and his passenger heard and felt the sudden jolt causing them to be pushed forward.

“The defendant's car continued rolling forward slowly compressing the bike into the rear of the truck.”

Ms Smith described how DeSilva became hysterical after the collision and had to be removed from the driver's seat so her car could be driven backwards to release Mr Richardson.

The 23-year-old was rushed to hospital where he died from his injuries.

DeSilva was arrested and when interviewed immediately admitted: “It was my fault, I did not mean it.”

Victim impact statements from Mr Richardson's family were read to the court which said he was a “a real character with a feisty spirit” as well as a “joker”.

His mother, Kareen Richardson, said her son's death was avoidable.

She added: “We are struggling to come to terms with his death. We are just taking one day at a time.

“It's a very painful process. There is not a day goes by when I don't think about Jokeem. There is a void in our family.

“This is pure hell for a mother and absolutely nothing can bring him back.”

Yesterday at court, DeSilva, who had pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving at an earlier hearing, apologised for her actions.

She told Mr Richardson's family: “I want to send my condolences to the family. I am really, really sorry for what has happened.

“I cannot bring him back but I wish I could do something for them. It was an accident.”

DeSilva's lawyer, Richard Horseman, acknowledged that Mr Richardson bore no responsibility for the accident, but he pointed out that his client had been driving very slowly just prior to the accident and maintained: “It was a mistake.”

He added: “She has pressed the accelerator at the same time as the brake. Had she just hit the brake Mr Richardson would still be here. It was a tragic accident.”

Ms Smith said that yesterday's sentencing came just a day after The Royal Gazette launched its Drive for Change campaign to try and get motorists to change their bad habits in Bermuda.

“This campaign is The Royal Gazette speaking to every member of society to have regard for our community and other road users because death is too frequently the result of not considering your neighbour.

“In ten years there have been 118 road deaths. It indicates the prevalence of this kind of offence in Bermuda.”

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.

Deep loss: Jokeem Richardson, far right, with his family (Photograph supplied)

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Published January 31, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated January 31, 2018 at 6:28 am)

Woman jailed over death of motorcyclist

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