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Two Rock Gutter accused to know fate this Friday

Two Rock Gutter accused to know fate this Friday

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The two men charged with causing, by omission, the January 12, 2015 deaths of seven students at Rock Gutter, would know their fate this Friday, March 31, 2017.

Last Wednesday, a preliminary inquiry (PI) into the incident ended with a no case submission by lawyers Grant Connell and Israel Bruce.

The PI seeks to determine if Ehud Myers, a 67-year-old pastor and Davanan Nanton, a 36-year-old chauffeur would have to answer the charges before judge and jury at the High Court.

However, Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias reserved her decision on their no case submission for Friday.

Apart from the testimony of the investigating officer, Station Sergeant Junior Nero, and auto mechanic McKenley Roberts, the court also viewed two videos, both an hour in duration of Nero’s interrogation of both men at the Central Police Station.

Nanton was the driver of minibus HL636 on January 12, 2015, when it ran off the road and plunged into the sea at Rock Gutter, Fancy.

This accident caused the deaths of Racquel Ashton, Chanstacia Stay, Glenroy Michael, Jamall and Jamalie Edwards, Simonique Ballantyne and Anique Alexander.

However, on Wednesday, Connell, who represents Myers, told the court that absolutely no evidence was presented to prove that Myers caused the death of the students by omission.

He pointed out that Nero’s evidence shows that he, the investigating officer, did not check the inspection records of the vehicle as part of his investigation.

Connell further pointed out that an “H” vehicle must be inspected twice a year and because the minibus HL636 had a number that ended with “6” it means that it must be inspected in June.

Added to that, Connell said the second inspection must be done in December to therefore make the vehicle roadworthy for the following year.

“The evidence of the other witnesses, with greatest respect to them, is not worth referring to. I reiterate that there is absolutely no evidence at this juncture that will make out a prima facie case.”

The defence lawyer asked the chief magistrate to dismiss the matter, stating that Nero did not present any evidence as to whose name the vehicle is registered in to show ownership.

Bruce, Nanton’s lawyer, made a similar submission to Connell adding that the prosecution’s case rests on the testimonies of the vehicle inspector, Corporal Pope and Nero, the investigator.

Bruce said Nanton decided to keep the vehicle on the road with hope that the terrain of the road would have helped to slow down the vehicle and cause it stop safely.

“To this point, there is not a single witness from the Crown who came to give evidence and indicated what is it that Davanan Nanton ought to have done that he did not do,” Bruce said, adding that that is where the principle of omission lies.

Bruce said that on the few occasions when it appeared to Nanton that something was wrong with the vehicle, he changed the disk pads on the van.

However, during his submission, senior prosecutor Adolphus Delpesche said a driver and the owner of a vehicle have a duty to show care for their passengers.

In relation to Myers and Nanton, Delpesche argued that the question is whether they breached their duty of care.

He added that when someone drives a vehicle they owe every person on the road whether it be pedestrians, motorists and passengers, a duty of care.

The senior prosecutor also said that according to Corporal Pope, the disk pads were worn down to the metal. And so, it was Myers’ duty as the pastor of the church to ensure that the church owned vehicle had proper disk pads.

He said the question if Nanton, as the driver, had a duty to make sure that the vehicle is functioning properly is a question for a jury.

On Tuesday, December 3, 2015, a month-long Coroner’s Inquest into the incident revealed that the persons responsible for the minivan had been given several warnings to take the vehicle off the road. Myers and Nanton were charged, along with head teacher of the Fancy Government School Colbert Bowens; however, the charges were withdrawn from Bowens on May 3, 2016.

The Preliminary Inquiry heard its last testimonies one day after the Government unveiled a monument in memory of the seven students at Rock Gutter. (AS)

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