Tue | Feb 27, 2024

‘Their relatives were also waiting for them to come home’

Prosecution presses case against cabbie in deadly crash

Published:Saturday | November 25, 2023 | 12:05 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

THE PROSECUTION has labelled Delroy Rodney, the taxi operator charged with the deaths of five people in an accident Bluefields, Westmoreland, as a reckless driver who should not be considered for bail.

In response to a request in the Westmoreland Parish Court late Wednesday evening from defence attorneys Lambert Johnson and Faith Salmon, the prosecution stated, “The Crown is submitting that the accused is not a fit candidate for bail.”

The 47-year-old Rodney was remanded until December 6, based on the seriousness and nature of the offence and to facilitate the provision of three reports that will impact his bail application.

“While the seriousness of the offence should not be the deciding factor, Your Honour, consideration must be given to the offence committed,” the prosecution stated.

On the previous court appearance, the defence had indicated that Rodney’s wife “is waiting for him to come home”.

The prosecution did not take that plea lightly, given that three families are now grieving for the five victims.

“The families of Miss Angela Samuel, Mr Oneil Allen, Miss Petrina Wallace, Miss Lavecia Forrester, and Miss Janet Thompson, on November 13, 2023, were also waiting on them to return home, but, Your Honour, sadly, they did not return home and will not,” the prosecution said.

“The Crown also submits that Mr Rodney was reckless in the manner in which he drove the vehicle ... . The passengers trusted him to take them home safely and he did not,” the prosecution added. “The Crown is submitting that the only care that Mr Rodney would have exercised was care for himself, hence the reason why the passenger who sat directly behind him is still alive.”

The prosecution said that if given bail, Rodney is likely to abscond.

The Crown is also relying heavily on the account of a witness at the scene of the accident on November 13.

‘Mi wrong’

According to the prosecution, Rodney was not on the scene when the investigating officer visited the crash site, but, while there, a witness recounted that the accused was seen standing by the side of the road holding his head and identifying himself as the driver of the Toyota Noah.

“The witness recounted that this driver, Mr Rodney, said, ‘Lawd God, Lawd, mi gawn a jail now. Mi wrong, mi wrong’.”

The accused was also reportedly asked by the witness if he was the only one in the bus, to which the accused, Mr Rodney, replied, “Everybody in there dead.”

The prosecution argued that at no point did the crowd, which had gathered at the scene, behave in a manner that suggested they were likely to hurt the accused, for him to have fled the scene.

Rodney is charged with five counts of causing death by dangerous driving, stemming from the deaths.

It is reported that, about 3:30 p.m. on November 13, the five people and another passenger were aboard a grey Toyota Noah being driven by Rodney. The minivan collided with a truck, which was travelling in the opposite direction.

Johnson said his client is prepared to apologise to the families of those who have lost loved ones.

“To suggest that a man of God, Mr Rodney, was heartless and reckless is a bit much. That cannot be the foundation for an objection to bail,” he protested.

The Crown is awaiting the post-mortem report, the accident and reconstruction report, the black box of the Toyota Noah, the examination report of the mechanical fitness of the vehicle, and the investigator is to provide the speed limit on the roadway where the accident took place.

Judge Steve Walters said, “I will not await the AR (accident and reconstruction) report nor the post-mortem, but I would like to see the examiner’s report for the vehicle and black box. Let me have those two documents and see if this will help me strike the balance.”

albert.ferguson@gleanerjm.com