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Man jailed for causing the death of teenager appeals conviction

Jen-Naya Simmons, who died in a crash in 2018. (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

A man jailed for a fatal collision that cost a teenager her life has argued that his conviction should be overturned on the basis of a “lurking doubt” of his guilt.

Terrance Walker, from Pembroke, was sentenced to three years behind bars for causing the death of 18-year-old Jen-Naya Simmons by careless driving in a 2018.

Marc Daniels, counsel for Walker, argued before the Court of Appeal that questions remain about the evidence in the case and whether the conviction is safe.

Mr Daniels said that while an expert witness for the Crown told the court that Ms Simmons was struck fatally near where her body was found — in her own lane — an expert for the defence argued it was inconceivable that the impact would not have moved her.

He described the prosecution expert’s opinion as “vacuous”, and noted that when questioned by the judge the witness had said that he would be able to determine more if he had access to the victim’s helmet or the bumper from the van.

“Yes, an opinion was given, but it doesn’t appear to be sound given the evidence before the court,” Mr Daniels said.

“What appears to me to be most troubling was the repeated statement when questioned by the judge of ‘if I had that item my opinion might change entirely’.

“That means you don’t know what side of the road everyone was on because you are missing these pieces of evidence.”

Mr Daniels also highlighted that Ms Simmons did not have a valid driver’s licence and had reportedly fallen off a bike less than 24 hours before the fatal collision.

He also said that while Walker was “evasive” when talking to police about who was driving the van that night, putting him as the driver was always a contentious point in the case.

While Walker has said that he was a passenger in the van, that admission came during his sentencing months after the guilty verdict had been delivered.

“The question the court has to deliberate is if there is a sufficiency of evidence that the conviction can be considered safe,” he said.

During the Supreme Court trial, a jury heard that in the early hours of July 15, 2018, Ms Simmons was on her way home from a house party in Warwick when the fatal collision occurred on North Shore Road in Hamilton Parish.

Jada Simmons-Trott, a friend of Ms Simmons, said that she had seen a grey or white van moving west in the area partially in the eastbound lane moments before she lost track of her friend.

Another witness said she had seen a silver van travelling west turn off its lights moments before she came across the scene of the collision.

The witness said she later saw the same van ride through the scene of the fatal collision travelling in the opposite direction, noting that the vehicle had four people inside.

CCTV footage on North Shore Road showed a silver van approaching the crash site near the time of the collision, and the vehicle was found to be registered to Walker.

The same vehicle was seen later travelling in the opposite direction on the same road.

Walker told police later that he was the usual driver of the vehicle, and that the van had been involved in a “fender bender thing”, but denied that it had been involved in an accident.

The court also heard that Walker performed as a DJ, and was promoted as a performer at an event at Bailey’s Bay Cricket Club on the night of the collision.

Glenn Luben, a US-based investigator who gave evidence for the Crown, said that Ms Simmons had fallen — and was later struck by another vehicle while she was in her own lane.

However, Michael Prime, a British collision investigator and witness for the defence, said it was more likely that Ms Simmons had fallen into the incoming lane and was knocked back into her own lane when struck.

Walker was found guilty by a majority verdict of 9-3 and was later sentenced to three years behind bars and banned from driving for five years.

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