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Judge: Drowsy driver made a dangerous gamble by staying at wheel

A man who crashed into a motorcycle rider after he fell asleep at the wheel has lost an appeal against his conviction.

Levince Roberts sought to overturn his conviction in Magistrates’ Court for causing grievous bodily harm by driving in a careless or dangerous manner in connection with a 2018 collision.

But Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams found in a December 29 judgment that it was “undeniable” that Roberts drove while he was “in a prolonged state of falling asleep” and that he had numerous opportunities to pull over before the crash.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams said: “The only reasonable inference to be drawn from the evidence is that the appellant ignored all reasonable opportunity to stop at a safe location prior to the accident site.

“The facts established that he stubbornly pursued his hopeless goal to reach Warwick Long Bay Beach.

“A careful and competent driver would have known from all of the circumstances of this case that continuing to drive while feeling such sleepiness or drowsiness presented a real danger of falling asleep while driving.”

The judge sent the matter back to Magistrates’ Court for Roberts to be sentenced.

The Supreme Court heard Roberts, a part time photographer and videographer, returned to Bermuda from Miami at 10pm on the night of June 17, 2018.

Later that same night he went to film a concert at the National Sports Centre and returned to his home in Sandys at 5am.

At 7am - two hours later - he left home again to go to St David’s to work as a security guard for the Bermuda Carnival event held at Clearwater Beach, where he worked until 7pm.

At around 7.30pm, on his way home, he struck Jahron Wilson head-on near Astwood Park in Warwick.

A witness said he saw the car driven by Roberts drift into the incoming lane and that Mr Wilson had no chance to avoid the collision.

The witness said the car continued for 15 to 20 feet after the impact with the victim on the hood before it came to a stop and Mr Wilson was flung to the ground.

Mr Wilson suffered a broken left leg and a broken right hip in addition to multiple abrasions across his body.

The court heard Roberts immediately accepted culpability and told an officer at the scene he had fallen asleep.

But he denied that he had driven in a “careless or dangerous manner”.

Roberts said he noticed he had “started to nod off” and made the decision to stop at Warwick Long Bay to collect himself, but the crash happened before he reached that point.

He added that he considered stopping sooner, but he decided against it because he was concerned someone might hit his car or he might be “hassled” by police.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams said the magistrate who handled Roger’s trial, Craig Attridge, was correct to reject that defence and upheld the conviction.

She said: “It is undeniable on the evidence that appellant knowingly operated his car while in a prolonged state of falling asleep.

“On his own evidence he admitted that he was feeling drowsy as he approached Paget but that he nevertheless proceeded to South Shore Road, Warwick.

Mrs Justice Subair Williams added: “He told the magistrate that he started to nod and fall off to sleep as he reached the stretch of road by the guesthouses in the Astwood Park area.”

”The appellant would have had ample reasonable opportunities to bring his car to a safe and parked position in Paget Parish and along the side of the road at nearly any point from Astwood Park, Warwick and westward.

“Instead, he made a conscious decision, which was an obvious dangerous gamble, to make his way to Warwick Long Bay. ”