Driver dispute in fatal crash

| 21/01/2014

(CNS): A woman charged with causing death by dangerous driving following a car crash in which Karen Edwards was killed in August 2011 has denied being the driver. According to the crown, Dorlisa Gavrilla Piercy was driving the car when she lost control near Lovers Wall on Seaview Road, East End. Priscilla Smith, the car’s owner, was said to have been in the passenger seat and was the only person still in the car when the emergency services arrived. Tamara Smith and Karen Edwards, who was pregnant, were in the back. Edwards was thrown from the car and killed, while Tamara Smith was able to walk away. Piercy was badly hurt and taken to hospital by someone who arrived at the scene before the police.

Piercy’s trial opened on Monday in Grand Court before visiting Justice Carol Beswick, who is presiding over the case without a jury. The court heard that the four women were returning to George Town on the evening of Sunday 12 August 2011 after spending the afternoon at Rum Point. They were returning via East End, having gone there to buy food and meet with Piercy’s boyfriend, Johnny Bodden, who was at a bar with other friends.

Priscilla Smith had driven the car throughout the day but she told the court that when they left the East End bar she was tired and did not want to drive back to town. As a result, she said Piercy took the keys and the women set off following Bodden, who was on a motorbike, as well as his friends in a car.

Alcohol is not a feature in the case, but the crown claims that Piercy was speeding when she lost control of the vehicle at around 7:15pm at the bend near Lovers Wall and the car hit a tree before overturning several times. However, she disputes that she was the driver and says that Priscilla Smith was still behind the wheel, as she had been the whole day.

However, according to witnesses at the scene and emergency services, Smith was trapped in the passenger seat, which is where Piercy, who was taken away to the hospital before any police or emergency service personnel arrived, claims she was sitting.

Meanwhile, Tamara Smith was said by witnesses to have been wandering in the crowd, notbadly injured but in shock. Edwards had been thrown from the car and was unresponsive when the ambulance personnel came on scene shortly after the smash. Edwards (24), who was seven months pregnant, was taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Priscilla and Tamara Smith both told the court that Piercy was driving. When pressed by defence counsel, they denied coming up with the story that Piercy was the driver on the assumption that she had been so badly hurt they thought she would die.

Priscilla Smith, who told the court she was hospitalized for around a month and was unable to walk for more than three months as a result of her injuries, said she was unconscious for around two days. The last thing she remembered was getting into the passenger seat and dozing off, then waking up in the hospital sometime that evening and hearing voices before she drifted into sleep and did not awake until days later.

She insisted Piercy was driving and said that the police should have forensic evidence that would prove she was. The car owner said officers had taken swabs and hand prints from them all and that her own and Piercy’s prints would be on the wheel.

In addition, she said that if the police had taken the camera footage from the CCTVs outside the East End bar, there would have been no question who got into what seat when they left.  However, it appears that the police never requested the footage. The witness also stated that the department of vehicle licensing had destroyed the car without her permission.

The case continues this week in Court Three.

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