Jailed driver bailed for appeal

| 07/05/2014

(CNS): A woman convicted of causing death by dangerous driving who was handed a five year jail term last month has been released from prison on bail because she has a genuine chance of winning an appeal. Dorlisa Piercy was convicted of causing the death of Karen Edwards, who was seven months pregnant when she was thrown from a car during a major smash in East End in 2011, as a result, the judge found, of Piercy's dangerous fast driving. However, the chief justice found that the appeal filled by her attorney, Lucy Organ of Samson McGrath, had a legitimate chance of success and met the requirements to allow bail pending the hearing set for November. He therefore placed Piercy on conditional bail, allowing the young mother to return to her 17-month-old child.

Piercy was convicted after trial, when she denied being the driver and was then handed one of the most severe sentences in any recent death by dangerous driving case by the visiting judge, Justice Carol Beswick. Despite being a breast feeding mother, she was jailed for five years.
Organ argued in the appeal that the judge had erred in her findings on five different grounds but in particular that there was no evidence of dangerous driving. Piercy, if she was the driver, was found by an expert witness to have been driving in a 50mph zone at around 65 mph. But with no other hazards on the road and in daylight, speed alone is not sufficient to find dangerous driving, according to the law accepted by the judge.
Organ said the judge had called on common sense as a result of the damage to the car and inference from witnesses that Piercy was driving much faster than 65mph but there was no indication in the ruling to show how the judge had found that she was driving so fast it could amount specifically to dangerous, calling the conviction into question.
Chief Justice Anthony Smellie made it clear that his opinion had no bearing on the success or failure of Piercy's appeal, merely that there was a prima facie case – or  sufficient grounds for an appeal to be heard. Therefore, in line with the requirements of the bail law relating to the circumstancesof someone already convicted of an offense being released, the CJ said they had been met and ordered Piercy's conditional release.
She was bailed to reside at her West Bay home and to report twice per week to the West Bay police station. Piercy was directed to surrender her passport to put up a surety bond of $20,000 and to be placed on an electronic tag with an 8pm to 8am curfew.
During the trial of Piercy the court had heard that she and another passenger in the car were very badly injured in the smash, which had thrown Edwards, who was not wearing a seatbelt, clear of the car and killed her instantly. Piercy was not under the influence of drink or drugs at the time of the smash and there were no other hazards on the road. Experts were unable to ever determine exactly what speed the car was traveling when it came off the road and hit a palm tree on Seaview Road in the Lovers Wall area.
Although experts made certain estimates, the failure of the police to preserve the car in evidence and have it scrapped before experts for the defence were able to examine it and long before the case came to trial, the accident reconstructionists were left with only half of the story. 
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