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Driver gets non-custodial sentence for “death by careless conduct”

GeneralDriver gets non-custodial sentence for “death by careless conduct”

Photo: Ethan Andrew Matura

BELIZE CITY, Tues. June 18, 2024

A fatal traffic accident within the city limits that resulted in the death of a man concluded today in the High Court before Justice Candace Nanton, after the accused pleaded guilty to causing death by careless conduct, having been charged initially for the traffic offense of manslaughter by negligence.

The accused is 23-year-old Ethan Andrew Matura, then an Office Assistant employed with Emile C. Emilio & Associates and a resident of Saint Vincent Street, Belmopan.

This morning, Matura, in the presence of his attorney, Hurl Hamilton, learned his fate after he had initially pleaded guilty in January of this year to manslaughter by negligence.

Matura was unrepresented at that time and was advised to seek legal representation, which he did.

Today, after the Crown reviewed the elements of the offense of manslaughter by negligence, the DPP was of the view that Matura did not mean to cause the death of the victim, so he was indicted today for the offense of causing death by careless conduct, which he wasted no time in pleading guilty to.

For his guilty plea, Justice Candace Nanton imposed a non-custodial sentence of a fine of $4,000, of which he has until the next six months to pay to the Government of Belize.

She ordered no compensation to the victim’s family, since documents submitted to the court showed that the deceased’s family had already been compensated in the sum of $43,500 through a settlement with his insurance company since the fatality.

At the age of 21, Matura had been read four charges at his arraignment for the offenses of manslaughter by negligence, causing death by careless conduct, and driving motor vehicle without due care and attention, along with one count of failure to conform to a traffic sign.

He was initially granted bail in the sum of $8,000 plus 2 sureties of $4,000 each with stringent conditions in which the magistrate told him he must surrender all travelling documents to the court; he was not to interfere with any prosecution witnesses; he was not to leave the country without the court’s permission; he was also not to apply for any travel documents without the court’s permission.

Matura was charged on Thursday, July 8, 2022, (16 days after) for the fatal traffic accident that took the life of Rodel Williams at the intersection of Slaughter House Road and Cleghorn Street through the negligent use of a motor vehicle, a red 2020 Ford pickup truck with license plate # 26290 whilst he was driving towards Belize Estate &Co. Ltd at a an estimated speed of 20 miles per hour.

According to the report, the accident occurred on June 22, 2022 at 10:30 a.m., when Matura failed to stop at the “Stop” sign at the intersection of the two streets, and as a result a silver Nissan Frontier truck coming from Cleghorn Street collided into the right back door of his vehicle and caused him to lose control of his vehicle and collide into Rodel Williams.

On June 27, 2022, 5 days after the accident, Williams succumbed to his injuries.

Justice Nanton heard a mitigation plea on behalf of Matura from his attorney, Hurl Hamilton, who submitted that his client from the onset cooperated with the police; he did not flee the scene; he assisted the victim; he took fault from the onset and was willing to help; he also wanted to plead guilty from the onset; he had no previous convictions; and he is a person of good character.

Justice Nanton then listened to the Victim Impact Statement of Williams’ cousin, Robert Henry, who spoke of the kind of person his cousin was, and he said that no one can ever replace Williams because he had an outstanding personality and cared about everyone in his family.

In imposing the non-custodial sentence, Justice Nanton, after considering the mitigating and aggravating factors, said the starting point was $7,500, but she deducted $1,500 for the aggravating and mitigating factors, leaving Matura with a fine of $6,000.

Further deduction was awarded to Matura after the judge noted that he pleaded guilty and saved the court time in a trial, so she deducted $2,000 more, leaving him with $4,000 as the fine he must pay to the Government of Belize within a six-month period ordered by the court.

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