No jail over trailer death

| 04/11/2011

court good.jpg(CNS): A 52-year-old woman received two years probation under house arrest, 240 hours of community service and a three year driving ban for the death of a bus driver when a trailer she had secured with bungee cords came detached. Veramae Watson was found guilty by a jury of causing death by reckless driving in July this year in connection with an accident that occurred in 2007 on Shamrock Road. Edwin Edwards was badly injured in the smash and later died from his injuries. Handing down the sentence on Friday, Justice Alex Henderson said that there were exceptional circumstances in the case which allowed for a non-custodial sentence.

The judge stated that there were no aggravating features in the case but a combination of issues led to him finding that the “mitigating factors were exceptional.”

He described the circumstance of the reckless death as a “momentary lapse of judgment  with tragic and unforeseen consequences” and said that there were no other dangerous circumstances in the case. In addition the judge found that Watson's family circumstances were also exceptional. While family situations are not ordinarily a reason not to send a person convicted of this offense to jail, the judge said the circumstances in this case were special and added to the mitigating factors.

“This is an exceptional case,' Justice Henderson stated as he made his ruling. “Most cases are not exceptional and will result in a substantial term of imprisonment.”

The judge ordered that the defendant stay in her home for the first year of her probation under house arrest, except for the time she spent attending community service and for six hours on a Saturday to attend church and purchase necessities.

During the sentencing Henderson described how Watson was driving a jeep with a trailer that had a doughnut hitch on its front which did not match the receiver. In an attempt to alleviate this problem she had affixed two rubber straps – which proved to be insufficient.

Witnesses had testified that just before the trailer detached she had been driving safely and well under the 50mph speed limit on the road. The driver of the bus that was hit by the trailer was estimated by experts to be traveling at least 59mph in the other direction when the trailer veered across the road into the path of the van.

Watson had believed incorrectly that she could tow the trailer safely and revealed during the trial that she had already driven with the trailer hitched in this way on a previous occasion without incident.

With no criminal record and no previous driving violations, together with the mitigating and special circumstances, Watson avoided a jail term as the judge noted that there was provision in law for a non-custodial sentence.

During her sentencing hearing Watson had presented a letter to the court in which she express her horror at the tragic loss suffered by  Edwin Edwards' family and stated that she never would have imagined that she could be involved in the death of another human being. “It will remain with me for the rest of my life and my prayers are with them always,”she told the court.

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Comments (21)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Well isn't this the same with drunk driving that someone has a "momentary lapse of judgement" when they get behind a wheel thinking they are not drunk and are still ok to drive?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I bet if it was a teenager they would have had jail time.

  3. Soapbox Sally says:

    He described the circumstance of the reckless death as a “momentary lapse of judgment  with tragic and unforeseen consequences”.


    Define "momentary". It was said that she has done it before…..she clearly thought about a woefully inadequate solution, long enough to go and get the bungee cords and attached them and then was driving very carefully (which suggests that she knew this was not a great solution)……so how long exactly constitutes a "moment" in this case?


    I am sure she does feel guilty – but all those who adopt the "it couldn't happen to me" approach, wait for the disaster to happen and then feel ever-so-guilty only after they have killed someone (most DUI people fall under this category, by the way).  Too little too late.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Another rediculous decision from an out-of-touch judge.  This is a case of manslaughter due to negligence.  What message does this give to the public?   

    • so Anonymous says:

      The message is if you are a person with "special or exceptional (fill in the blank) then you are exempt from having to follow the law or be perscuted for not following the law.  Lot of that going on here now days.  The people of Cayman are following their leadership backwards to the days long past when might (status) makes right.  Welcome back to third world.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think this sentence is pathetic. Mercy Lord mercy.

  6. so Anonymous says:

    Caymankind is what happens when you protect stupid and incompetent and do all you can to limit intelligence and skill to accomplish that..  The law must be taking  intoaccount that you are stupid to be driving in Cayman in the first place so any accident is half your fault no matter what.  Explains a lot.  All you unexceptional people be careful of all the drivers with exceptional curcumstances out there.  Theres a lot of them and thats the best you can do.

  7. Tiny Briefs says:

    Did she play the God card in her mitigation?

  8. Pit Bull says:

    I did not realise being criminally stupid got you out of jail time.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hello!!! Cause a death in someway or murder someone you stand a great chance of winning your case and walking free.Just please don't get caught with a spliff of weed or any other drug you will go to prison for a very long time.

  10. Ron Melancon says:

    Please go to and see what is going on…How can we make people be more responsible when people can destroy others and get away with it?



  11. Anonymous says:

    I think stupidity may have been the largest mitigating factor. You can't fix stupid.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Might as well give her this sentence. We let out rapers, murderers AND DRUNK DRIVERS who purposefully aim to kill anyway. Yes it was stupid and this sentence is fair for someone her age. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Her age does not matter she KILLED Mr.Edwin he was the most kind respectful person/busdriver ever and didnt deserved to die the way he did people her age have been convicted for something less serious then what she has done which was take a life of someone she deserved to be treated the same way as everyone else PELT INTO JAIL R has her christian self rub off on u because she's a christian

  13. Absurdistani says:

    This verdict is disgusting. This woman killed someone because of her negligence. Two years at home, 240 hours of community service and loss of driving rights for 3 years is insulting. Is this what a life is worth in Cayman?

    ~ Just another day in Absurdistan ~


  14. Civil Dialogue says:

    This is absurd, a person recklessly secures a trailer with a bungee cord which consequently resulted in the death of a road user AND a sentence of a mere SLAP ON THE WRIST is passed-down.

    The special circumstance under the law, in my opinion, would’ve been appropriate if the trailer connection had mechanical failed, rather than failing because of a poor and unacceptable assemble.

    We ought to be mindful as having a society believing that our judiciary system is failing may have dire consequences.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I think this was a bad decision.  This tells me that stupid people can do as they please with no consequences.  A person died.  It was complete negligence.  The family of the deceased should sue in civil court for loss of earnings of the deceased.  I hope they win. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly. I doubt that the family could afford this.  Its a pity the criminal court couldn't have given them the justice they deserved.

  16. Loopy Lou says:

    What a disgrace.  Complete disregard for others caused a death.  Jail should be automatic for this case.  Road safety is pitiful in Cayman and this "punishment" does nothing to help protect future innocents from dying becuase of such selfishness.  She was no better morally than drink drivers who kill.  I would have given her at least 2 years if not a few more.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Stupid is as Stupid Does

  18. Anonymous says:

    This seems unfair, a family has lost a loved one due to foolishness. She didnt mean it?!..if it was my child or husband that was killed I would be mad at the outcome.

    Rubber cords to keep a 400lb + trailer on, you cant teach stupid I guess.