BELIZE CITY, Mon. July 29, 2019– A British soldier who was out drinking and ended up accidentally reversing a Ford F-150 pickup truck into a group of people, which caused one man to lose his life, was sentenced to serve 5 years in prison, after a military court found him responsible for causing the accident.
The case against Sergeant Lee Humphreys, 44, of the 32nd Regiment, Royal Artillery, was partially heard in Belize and the UK, where it ended with a guilty verdict against the veteran, who had served in the British Army for 18 years, before the accident in Belize.
In September 2016, Humphreys was stationed in Belize as part of the British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB), and had caused the death of Salvadoran national Jose Molina, 43, a father of one child. Humphreys thought he was in reverse gear and when he hit the gas, the F-150 ploughed into a group of people, killing Molina on the spot, and injuring 3 others.
The accident occurred in front of Dream Like City, a nightclub located at about Mile 1 ½ on the Philip Goldson Highway.
A test of a urine sample taken from Humphreys indicated that his blood/alcohol level had exceeded the prescribed limit. The test of the urine sample that Humphreys gave to police around 5:00 a.m. after the accident, showed that there were 165 milligrams of alcohol in his system, and the prescribed limit is 107 milligrams.
Brenda, the mother of Molina’s child, said in a victim impact statement that each time the child sees a picture of his father, he asks when is his father coming home.
Brenda described her son as being withdrawn and shy following his father’s death. She also explained that she has to work to support her son.
She further said that she has money problems and has to live with the loss of her partner. “Our son will never see his father again,” Brenda was quoted as saying in her victim impact statement.
In a mitigation statement, Michael Gray, who spoke on behalf of the soldier, told the court that Humphreys thinks about the incident every day and has developed post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.
Gray said that Humphreys had a clean military record before this incident and had served his country in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a military driver.
The Telegraph reported that “Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett said: ‘You are the only person who knows exactly what actually happened inside that vehicle.’
“Whatever the mechanism, the result was that your driving fell far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.
“Even if your foot did slip from one pedal to the other, it was in circumstances where had you not been affected by alcohol, you would have been aware of the risk and taken more care when maneuvering”.
The Telegraph also said that Humphreys “will be released on license after two years and six months.”