Lorry driver sentenced to 108 years for 12 counts of causing death by dangerous driving

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….will serve 9 years in prison as sentences will run concurrently

A lorry driver was today sentenced to a total of 108 years in jail after being found guilty on twelve counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

Chaitram Moonsammy

Chaitram Moonsammy, 42, of Black Bush Polder, received the sentence from Justice Brassington Reynolds at the Berbice Assizes.

On October 29, 2010, along the East Coast Berbice Public Road a lorry and a minibus collided resulting in the driver and the twelve  passengers of the minibus being killed.

Moonsammy, the lorry driver was on trial for driving motor lorry GLL 8863 in a manner dangerous  to the public, resulting in the deaths of : Oudit Narine  Babulall, 33 (the driver of the minibus), of Number 48 Village; Salmaa Razac, 23 of lot 104 Main Street, Cumberland; Marques Ault, 14, of  Rose Hall Town;  Cindy Jaggernauth of  Nigg Settlement; two-month-old Josiah Khan, and his mother Talika Mendonca, 21, of  Kildonan Village;  Patricia Asgarally, 28, of Albion; Salmar Juman, 40, of  East Canje; Orlando De Mattos, called Lando, 32, of Manchester Village, Nazaradin Mahinudin, 19, of Lot 40 Betsy Ground, East Canje; Chetram Ramphal, 30, of Bush Lot, and Janet Baker of Number 19 Village.

The prosecution’s case is that on the day in question Moonsammy overtook another vehicle and came into the path of the minibus resulting in the fatal accident. The prosecution also claimed that the lorry was driving above the speed limit at the time.

Moonsammy told the court that it was the minibus which came into his lane causing the accident. He also told the court that the minibus was speeding at the time.

Among those who testified were three survivors of the accident.

A mixed jury found him guilty on a 10-2 majority.

Attorney-at-law Mescaline Bacchus asked for leniency for his client stating the psychological impacts of having to wait almost eight years for trial.

Bacchus argued that Moonsammy would have already been under punishment and called for the court not to impose a custodial sentence saying that it was a breach of reasonable time in having the trial.

He said the twelve deaths were caused as a result of an accident and not an intentional offence.

However, Justice Reynolds said those psychological impacts will not out way public interest.

The Judge also sounded a warning to would be errant drivers saying that there must be proper use of the country’s roads.

“We are a country of less than a million people and can ill afford one death; we need all for the development of Guyana. We do not know what contributions those twelve would have made to the development of Guyana.”

He said the sentences are to run concurrently.

Following the proceedings, some relatives of the deceased were seen dancing while others wept.

Family members of the 12 passengers who were killed in 2010

The father of four was arrested the day of the accident and remanded on November 2, 2010. Twenty days later he was granted bail.

Justice, Reynolds said the court took into account all the mitigating factors which were presented and deducted one year leaving him with nine years for each count.

The prosecution’s case was presented by State Prosecutor Tuanna Hardy.

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