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Driver who injured motorcyclist after falling asleep loses bid to overturn conviction

A man who seriously injured a motorcycle rider after he fell asleep at the wheel has lost an effort to overturn his conviction.

Levince Roberts was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm to Jahron Wilson by driving without due care and attention in a 2018 collision on South Road in Warwick.

Roberts argued in the Court of Appeal that, while he knew he was beginning to fall asleep, he made a reasonable decision to continue to drive until he reached a parking lot.

But Justice of Appeal Geoffrey Bell said in a written decision, dated June 24, Roberts had driven despite clear warning signs.

Mr Justice Bell said: “In the circumstances of this case, Roberts can consider himself lucky not to have been charged with and convicted of dangerous driving.”

The Court heard that Roberts, a part time photographer and videographer, had flown into the island on a flight from Miami on the evening of June 17, 2018.

He then drive to his home in Sandys and immediately left for the National Sports Centre where he had been hired to record a concert.

Roberts returned home at 5am on June 18, rested for two hours, and then drove to St David’s to work as security for the Bermuda Carnival.

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.

Roberts said he began to get tired as he approached Paget and was “nodding in and out”, but decided to continue to Warwick Long Bay, where he intended to stop and rest.

He said he did not want to stop immediately because he was worried if he parked on the side of the road he would be harassed by police.

Roberts was charged and convicted of causing grievous bodily harm by driving without due care and attention, but he appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court before he could be sentenced.

When his appeal was dismissed last December, he sought to have the matter heard by the Court of Appeal.

Roberts argued that the judge had used the wrong test to determine liability and that he had made a reasonable choice to continue after a “sudden onset of sleepiness”.

But the Appeal Panel found that Roberts’ own evidence showed he had continued to drive after it was clear he should get off the road.

Justice of Appeal Bell said Roberts accepted that he felt drowsy as he approached Paget and had the sensation of falling asleep when he reached Astwood Park.

He said: “Roberts’ decision to keep driving in the circumstances outlined in the grounds of appeal also ignored the severe lack of sleep which he had had up to the point at which he began his journey home.

“The fact that he should then have fallen asleep while driving should not have come as any surprise to him, and indeed he appears to have recognised this when he said towards the end of his cross-examination: ‘I felt I could make it to Warwick Long Bay. Decision was wrong’.

“His decision to keep driving after the increasing effect of his tiredness had twice become apparent to him demonstrates very clearly in my view the considerable difference between the standard of Roberts’ driving and the standard to be expected of the careful and competent driver.”