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Court rejects carer gran's licence plea

Court rejects carer gran's licence plea

Monday 25 March 2019

Court rejects carer gran's licence plea


A grandmother, who was banned from driving after hitting a cyclist, has had her application to keep her licence in order to look after a young family member with a developmental disorder rejected.

Elizabeth Ann Sylvester (71) appeared before the Court of Appeal last week, after being disqualified from driving for six months in the Magistrate’s Court in February.

The collision happened on 24 September 2018 at around 09:40, as Mrs Sylvester was leaving the Checkers supermarket car park to get onto La Grande Route de Faldouet. As she was pulling out, Mrs Sylvester collided with a 52-year-old man, who approached from the direction of St. Martin’s School.

Mrs Sylvester was charged with “causing serious injury by careless driving" - an offence to which she pleaded guilty.

Pictured: The collision took place as Mrs Sylvester was leaving the car park at Checkers.

Her lawyer, Advocate Darry Robinson, challenged Mrs Sylvester’s disqualification before the Court of Appeal, based on a number of letters outlining the impact it had had on his client’s family. He told Court that Mrs Sylvester’ disqualification had caused “difficulties” for a young family member with a developmental condition.

The Court was given copy of letters written by Mrs Sylvester’s family and a local school describing the impact of the disqualification. The family explained that it had caused heightened anxiety and stress, as well as causing a number of disruptions to routine, which the school said would have a detrimental impact on the child Mrs Sylvester helps looking after. 

Advocate Robinson told the Court, composed of Royal Court Commissioner Julian Clyde-Smith and Jurats Jane Ronge and Robert Christensen, that Mrs Sylvester was “an experienced driver with a good driving record”, who had been driving for 54 years without an incident.

He however said it was likely she would never drive again as she “couldn’t bear the thought of taking another driving test."

He said that Mrs Sylvester had slowly driven onto the road, but failed to look to her right a second time. He said she was not aware of the blind spot created by the corner of the shop, which had concealed the bicycle “for a vital couple of seconds.”

The lawyer argued that Mrs Sylvester’s offence was “not far from the very lowest level of harm” and involved low culpability, which he said had not sufficiently been weighed in the balance when the matters were considered by the Magistrate, Bridget Shaw.

Advocate Robinson described the incident as “misjudgement at low speed”, arguing that an endorsement on Mrs Sylvester’s licence would have been appropriate.

Concluding his address, the lawyer said Mrs Sylvester had made one mistake in 54 years of driving, for which she had paid a heavy fine, but that the disqualification was “manifestly excessive”.

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Pictured: Advocate Darry Robinson said that the decision of the Magistrate had been "manifestly excessive".

Legal Adviser Carla Carvalho argued that this was not the case, explaining that Mrs Sylvester had been sentenced on the basis of her failure to look right a second time.

The Royal Court Commissioner said the Court had “every sympathy with the position of Mrs Sylvester’s family “and the impact the disqualification had had on them.

But he added that the Appeal Court operates under well established rules” and that there were no grounds to say the disqualification was either wrong in principle or manifestly excessive. 

He said the sentence was “within range” for the offence, adding that the difficulties expressed by Mrs Sylvester’s family were “foreseeable” by the Magistrate when she made her decision. They therefore dismissed the appeal.

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