By Orville Williams
The truck driver accused of causing the death of a 17-year-old in 2017 was yesterday freed of the charge against him in the High Court.
Charles Powell was charged with causing death by dangerous driving, as he was the operator of a garbage truck that crushed Stephen Perez when he lost control of the vehicle in the vicinity of the Scotts Hill main road.
Perez was reported to be working on the garbage truck, which was sub-contracted by the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).
The young man was rushed to the then Mount St John’s Medical Centre following the incident, where he was pronounced dead.
Powell pleaded not guilty to the charge and the trial began in December last year, lasting just five days.
The defendant’s attorney, Warren Cassell, filed a ‘no case’ submission on behalf of his client at the completion of the prosecution’s case.
That submission was made on the points that the particulars of the charge were duplicitous and that the prosecution did not provide any evidence that the defendant’s driving on the day in question was dangerous to the public, considering the circumstances of the case.
In legal terms, duplicity occurs when more than one offence is alleged in the same charge.
Section 57 (1) of the Vehicle and Road Traffic Act says, “Any person who causes the death of another person by the driving of a motor vehicle on a road recklessly, or at a speed or in a manner which is dangerous to the public… shall be liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a
term not exceeding five years.”
And according to Justice Colin Williams, Powell being charged with driving “at a speed or in a manner which was dangerous to the public”, was a duplicitous indictment.
Justice Williams then accepted the no case submission – having noted the provisions of the Interpretation Act and having considered the wording of the indictment, which cites two different offences – determining that the indictment is bad for duplicity.