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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Man fined $4,500 for drunk driving
One of the drivers involved in the accident which claimed the life of Andrew Edwards, 20, has been fined $4,500 for drunk driving. Chemical engineer Darill Powder, 47, was fined yesterday after Magistrate Natalie Diop refused to allow him to change his plea to not guilty. The magistrate, presiding in the Point Fortin court, also rejected an application by the State to stay his sentence as the Director of Public Prosecutions moves to charge him with causing death by dangerous driving.
Powder, who was also injured in the crash, had pleaded guilty on November 11 to driving under the influence of alcohol. The details of the accident were not revealed in court, but court prosecutor Sgt Jitmansingh informed the magistrate that someone died. The fatal accident took place on November 10 on the Southern Main Road, La Brea.
Jitmansingh said when corporal Maloney spoke with Powder he had a strong alcohol odour on his breath and his speech was slurred. Powder was arrested and taken to the police station where the first breathalyser test recorded a score of 80 microgrammes. The second test recorded a reading of 74 mcg. The legal limit is 35 mcg per 100 millilitres of breath. Powder, who did not have an attorney then, claimed he had some drinks at a work-related function, but he did not realise he was over the limit.
The magistrate granted him $50,000 own bail and deferred sentencing. But, when Powder returned to court on November 14, he was represented by attorney Cedric Neptune, who said Powder wanted to change his plead to not guilty. Both the state and defence attorneys agreed that the magistrate had a discretion to allow a change of plea, but that discretion has to be exercised sparingly. In her ruling on Friday, Diop said Powder was unequivocal in his plea and did not appear not to understand what a guilty plea meant.
Neptune then asked the magistrate to reject the State’s request for a stay of sentence, deeming it inappropriate. He said no liability has been ascribed to his client for the accident, which is still under investigation. Asking for leniency, Neptune said his client, apart from this incident, is a law-abiding citizen and the father of four children. Neptune said Powder has worked at Tucker Energy Services for over 20 years and had strong ties to the community.
The magistrate ordered Powder to pay the fine in a day or serve seven months’ imprisonment with hard labour.
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