Driver was trying to roll spliff before crash

Antonio Elvis Kelly was sentenced on Tuesday to four years’ imprisonment for causing the death of Jordan Anthony Ebanks by careless driving on Nov. 17, 2013.

The sentence is to be served after the eight years he received for robbery.

Kelly, now 21, was 17 when he drove Mr. Ebanks’s car and hit a wall on Old Robin Road in North Side. He initially told police that Mr. Ebanks had grabbed the steering wheel, causing him to lose control. Later he said he had been trying to roll a spliff of ganja. He was driving approximately 85 mph in a 30-mph zone and never had a driver’s license.

In passing sentence, Justice Charles Quin questioned why the Crown had accepted a plea to causing death by careless driving instead of dangerous driving.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran explained that the careless driving charge was always an alternative and at the time the plea was accepted, the Crown had no evidence of what had happened in the car, other than the assertion that the victim grabbed the steering wheel. He suggested that the court’s sentencing powers were sufficient to meet the seriousness of the charge.

Justice Quin noted that Mr. Ebanks was initially believed to have been the driver, since no one else was at the scene and there were no witnesses.

An accident reconstructionist concluded that the cause of the accident was failure to negotiate a bend in the road due to speed.

Later on the day of the accident, Kelly sought treatment for his injuries. Police were called and he admitted to being the driver. He said he got scared after the accident and hid in the bushes nearby while emergency medical services were at the scene. He admitted smoking ganja before the accident and drinking two Guinness beers.

The judge pointed out that a toxicology report showed no drugs in the victim’s system, but he might have been over the legal limit for alcohol. Mr. Ebanks apparently thought he was over the limit and asked a friend to drive. He had just bought the car a few weeks earlier. He was a talented musician with a bright future and his death had had a devastating effect on his family, the court heard.

Justice Quin pointed out that the maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving is seven years. He said it was hard to imagine a more serious case of careless driving. The speed had been “terrifyingly excessive,” almost three times the limit, he said. Other aggravating features were the rolling of the spliff and leaving the scene, he added.

With a starting point of five years, Justice Quin gave Kelly a 20 percent discount for his guilty plea, resulting in a sentence of four years. He said this offense was of a wholly different type to Kelly’s other offenses, so this sentence will be consecutive to the eight years for robbery.

Read the full article from the Cayman Compass here.