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State of driving horrendous, says judge

Lives put at risk: Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said a strong message must be sent out after sentencing a bike thief

A Supreme Court judge has delivered a withering assessment of driving in Bermuda.

Acting Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe described driving standards on the island as “horrendous” as he sentenced a teenager who stole a motorbike and led police on a high-speed chase across Warwick and Southampton.

“Offences like this are all too prevalent,” Mr Justice Wolffe said. “The state of riding and driving in Bermuda is horrendous.

“Daily the lives of pedestrians and other road users are put in jeopardy by the senseless riding and driving of others.

“A strong message must be sent out that such behaviour must stop.”

The island’s senior magistrate told 20-year-old Calvin Francis that he was “between two minds” of whether to send him to prison for the offence of aggravated vehicle taking or imposing a community based sentence.

In deciding on a three-year probation order with strict conditions, Mr Justice Wolffe said: “It is up to you; whether you want to find yourself in Dubai or France fixing luxury cars or wearing orange in Westgate.

“Only you can change the direction you are going. If you breach any of the conditions you will find yourself dressed in orange.

“Seek the help that you desire and that you need.”

Earlier, the court had heard that Francis had stolen a motorbike and led police on a dangerous pursuit on June 23, last year after officers had attempted to stop him as he drove along Middle Road in Paget.

The teenager, who had a pillion passenger, tried to evade capture by swerving past motorists and speeding across junctions without stopping. He was arrested soon after, abandoning the stolen motorcycle near Horseshoe Road in Southampton. When interviewed by police, Francis admitted taking the bike without the consent of the owner, claiming he had come across the vehicle on the Railway Trail.

Yesterday he told the Supreme Court: “I got scared and I just continued running. I panicked.”

Mr Justice Wolffe pressed him further saying: “Why are you content to be just another statistic?, to which Francis replied “it was not intentional”.

“I understand what I did was wrong,” the teenager added. “I am glad that no one was hurt in the process.”