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Marshall appeals prison sentence for drink driving

Lamont Marshall (File photograph)

A former Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby champion has urged the Supreme Court to quash his six-month prison sentence for drinking and driving.

Lamont Marshall, 37, from Devonshire, was sentenced to time behind bars last September after he opted out of the DUI Court programme.

But he told the Supreme Court he only left the programme after senior magistrate Juan Wolffe said he would receive a fine and be banned from the road instead.

Victoria Greening, counsel for Marshall, said the sentence was both manifestly excessive and an abuse of process.

Ms Greening said: “It’s simply unfair and misleading for a magistrate to give someone an option in one of these alternative treatment courts to either terminate or go back to sentencing, and then to be sentenced by the very same magistrate in a different manner than was indicated to them in the previous court.

“That’s exactly what happened here. There was no mention of prison in these proceedings, and it was very clear.”

Marshall, from Devonshire, pleaded guilty on April 8, 2021 to drink-driving, driving while disqualified and refusing to take a breath test.

The court heard that police stopped Marshall’s car as he drove in an “erratic manner” along South Road, near Warwick Camp, on April 1 that year.

However, he then sped off, ignoring stop signs and crossing into the wrong lane on several occasions.

Police used specialist equipment to stop him near the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital. When they looked in his vehicle, they found several alcohol containers on the front passenger seat.

Marshall admitted that he had been drinking, but said he could not remember how much he had drunk.

He was taken to Hamilton Police Station, where he refused to take a breath test.

Police found that Marshall had been banned from the roads on June 12, 2020 until December 11, 2021 and his driver’s licence expired on July 22, 2020.

The court heard that Marshall was referred to DUI Court after he admitted that he drove while impaired and disqualified, but he was later found to be in non-compliance with the treatment court’s rules because he had been caught drinking.

Ms Greening said Marshall was given the option to either comply with the court or leave the programme and be sentenced.

She said Mr Wolffe had indicated that if he were to be sentenced, he would be banned from the road for a period of five years and fined $5,000.

However, when Marshall chose to leave the programme and be sentenced, Mr Wolffe sentenced him to six months in prison in addition to a fine and a five-year disqualification.

Ms Greening said the prison sentence came as a complete surprise to Marshall, who immediately urged her to launch an appeal.

She said the sentence caused Marshall to lose his job and should be either quashed or shifted to remove the term of imprisonment and reduce the length of disqualification to three years.

Maria Sofianos, for the Crown, said that in context it was clear that the comments Mr Wolffe made were not intended to be an indication of the sentence he would receive.

“He was putting out his view of what the appellant wanted to happen, not how the court was actually going to sentence this matter,” she said.

Ms Sofianos said Mr Wolffe gave no indication that a term of imprisonment would not be on the cards when all factors were considered.

“It was a back and forth, and they had not reached that point yet,” she said.

Ms Sofianos highlighted Marshall’s record, which included a 2012 conviction for two counts of causing injury by dangerous driving, a 2015 conviction for driving while impaired and a 2020 conviction for refusing to provide a breath sample.

Marshall is a three-times Bermuda Half Marathon Derby winner and Bermuda 5,000 metres record-holder.

He was also a high-profile campaigner for an end to military conscription on the island, which was abolished in 2018.

The matter before Puisne Judge Shade Subair Williams is set to resume on Wednesday.

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