Truck driver slapped with 12 counts of causing death
Thirty-eight year-old Chetram Moonsammy, of Johanna, Black Bush Polder, Berbice, appeared at the Berbice Magistrate court yesterday before Magistrate Adela Nagamootoo to answer to 13 charges.
Moonsammy was charged with 12 counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of failing to render assistance.
It alleged that on Friday, October 29, last, he drove motor lorry GLL 8863 in a manner dangerous to the public and claimed the lives of 12 persons while injuring five others.
That information was sworn to by Sergeant Forbes Brown.
Police prosecutor Roberto Figueira told the Magistrate that the defendant should be remanded to prison citing the seriousness of the offence. He said that the defendant allegedly caused the death of 12 persons and if granted bail would flee the jurisdiction. He said that the offence was committed on the Number 19 Corentyne Public Road, Berbice, and that the said lorry driver did not offer any assistance. He fled the scene but was arrested at the Whim Police Station.
Attorney at law Mursaline Bacchus appeared on behalf of the defendant, and made an application for bail. He informed the Magistrate that the offence is a bailable one and that his client did not act recklessly and if he did, he would have been charged with manslaughter.
He stated that his client on the day of the incident did not flee the scene, but instead reported at the Whim Police Station and was brought back to the scene.
Bacchus told the court that the fact 12 persons died does not mean that his client is guilty and refusal of bail should not be used as a punishment.
Moonsammy’s attorney also made reference to a report in the media which stated that the driver of the bus that was involved in the accident ‘was at fault’ and that the police did not refute such claims.
The Magistrate however objected to him using print media information.
Bacchus went on to explain that the prosecutor did not submit any growing evidence and he did not see why his client should be denied bail.
The lawyer told the magistrate that his client lives with his wife and is tasked with providing a livelihood for three minors. He owns 150 acres of rice fields which is in its period of harvesting, and if incarcerated, he will lose all his crops. In addition to his lengthy bail application, the passport due date of the accused was also submitted as proof for bail to be granted.
It appeared that Bacchus’s submission fell on deaf ears as Moonsammy was remanded and will return to court on January 3rd.
Bacchus then informed Magistrate Nagamootoo that he would be moving to the High Court for bail.
On Friday, last, Oudit Narine Baboolall, who was the driver of the of the minibus; Orlando De Mattos, Talita Mendonca and her two-month-old son Josiah Khan; Janet Baker, 46-year-old Salima Dilmohammed, Salmaa Razaac, Cindy Jaggernauth, 35, Patricia Asgarally, 38 year-old Chetram Ramphal, Nazradin Mohinudin and Marquest Ault were killed in an accident on the No.19 Corentyne Public Road.
The route 63 minibus was heading east along the thoroughfare when it collided with a truck driven by Moonsammy.
It was reported that it was raining at the time of the accident.
The five survivors are Tamika Fraser, of Kildonan; Sham Jaggernauth, of Nigg; Nicola Ross and Anwhatie Singh.