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Pitt handed three month jail term

A Paget woman convicted of running over twin brothers in an early morning collision has been sentenced to three months in prison.

Tracey Pitt, 51, was found guilty last week of two counts of causing grievous bodily harm by reckless driving and refusing a breath test.

However, Acting Justice Juan Wolffe released her on $20,000 bail pending her appeal against conviction, saying otherwise she could complete the sentence before the matter reaches the Court of Appeal.

The court had heard Pitt, an assistant auditor general, ran over 36-year-old Rudolph and Randolph Smith at around 2.20am on January 29 last year while they were walking home from a night in Hamilton.

Forensic expert testified that the brothers were sitting or laying in the southbound lane of Woodlands Road, near the junction with Canal Road, when they were struck by Pitt's car. They were then caught beneath the vehicle and dragged more than 40ft before it came to a complete stop.

Pitt was arrested at the scene of the accident on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm by impaired driving after he noticed her breath smelled of alcohol and she appeared unsteady on her feet.

Pitt admitted having two glasses of red wine at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, but repeatedly denied being impaired.

She testified that while driving along Woodlands Road her vision was affected by glare from the headlights of a passing vehicle. She then felt an impact and brought her car to a stop.

An 11-person jury found her not guilty on September 10 of causing injury by driving while impaired, but found her guilty of the less serious offence of reckless driving, and she was remanded into custody. She has since launched an appeal against her conviction.

Prosecutor Takiyah Burgess called for a sentence of between nine months and two years, noting the serious and lasting injuries sustained by the two victims.

However defence lawyer Elizabeth Christopher argued that a conditional or absolute discharge would be more appropriate because the victim was only partially culpable for the accident.

Delivering his ruling, Acting Justice Wolffe noted the serious injuries, both physical and psychological, suffered by the victims, but said the jury had found she was not impaired, and there was no evidence she was travelling at high speed.

“In the circumstances, my view is that the level of the defendant culpability is low, even with the stated aggravating features,” he said.

He also said that while Pitt didn't have the benefit of an early guilty plea, her decision to plead not guilty was justified because she was found not guilty of the more serious offences against her.

And he told the court he believed the defendant was remorseful of the accident, but hadn't contacted the victims to apologise out of fear of prejudicing the case.

Despite the factors in her favour, Acting Justice Wolffe said it would not be in the public interest to issue Pitt a conditional or absolute discharge, citing the seriousness of the offence and the “irredeemable” consequences of her actions.

He sentenced Pitt to three months in custody for each of the three offences, with the sentences running concurrently. For the offence of refusing to give a sample of breath, he additionally banned her from driving all vehicles for 18 months.

However, following an application by the defence, he released Pitt on $20,000 bail with a like surety, under the conditions that she surrender her travel documents and report to Hamilton Police Station twice a week.

Bailed: Tracey Pitt, was sentenced to three months in prison this afternoon, but has been released on bail pending her appeal. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

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Published September 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated September 20, 2013 at 11:42 pm)

Pitt handed three month jail term

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