A mentally ill man from Biche, who admitted to causing the death of an 88-year-old neighbour by dangerous driving, almost 13 years ago, is expected to be released after serving almost two years in prison.
Saddiq Ali, who was over three times the legal alcohol limit at the time of the accident, pleaded guilty to the offence, last year, but was only sentenced by High Court Judge Gillian Lucky at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain, on Monday afternoon.
In assessing the appropriate sentence for Ali, Lucky noted that the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment.
Lucky suggested a starting point of eight years in prison but decided to reduce the sentence by half, due to the fact that Ali was diagnosed with autism while awaiting trial.
The sentence was then reduced by a year as Lucky considered the remorse Ali showed following the incident.
After applying the mandatory one-third discount for his early guilty plea and subtracting the month Ali spent on remand before he was able to access bail, Ali was left with a sentence of one year and 11 months.
In passing the sentence, Lucky strongly considered submissions from Ali’s attorney Sophia Chote, SC, who claimed that a prison term would be effectively a death sentence for Ali as he would not receive adequate treatment for his illness whilst in the prison system.
Lucky noted that she had already spoken to prison officials, who assured her that they would be able to provide sufficient care for Ali. She also noted that the same psychiatrist, who diagnosed Ali, is also assigned to provide treatment for mentally ill inmates.
“When one is sentencing someone with a mental impairment, it must not work to their disadvantage,” she said.
At the request of State prosecutor Trevor Jones, Lucky also agreed to order that Ali not be allowed to hold a driver’s permit when he is eventually released.
She also agreed to have Ali brought back before her in one months’ time for her to ensure that he is receiving treatment.
According to the evidence in the case, the accident occurred along the Cunapo Southern Main Road in Biche, on January 17, 2007.
Agnes De Leon was standing at the side of the road, when Ali’s vehicle, which was seen swerving in the road, crashed into her.
Ali drove home before returning to check on De Leon.
Blood samples were taken shortly after the accident as the breathalyser tests had not been introduced at the time.
Ali was also represented by Shanice Ramdhan, while Rebecca Trim-Wright appeared alongside Jones.