The man who drove the truck in the gruesome Corentyne accident last week was yesterday slapped with twelve counts of causing death by dangerous driving when he appeared before Magistrate Adela Nagamootoo in the New Amsterdam Court.
Chetram Moonsammy, 34, was not required to plead when the indictable charges were read to him.
Particulars of the offences, which were sworn to by Police Sergeant Forbes Brown, stated that on October 29 at Suzanna Village, East Coast Berbice, Moonsammy allegedly drove motor lorry GLL 8863 in a manner dangerous to the public, resulting in the deaths of Oudit Narine Babulall, Marques Ault, Nazaradin Mahinudin, Salmaa Razac, Orlando De Mattos, Janet Baker, Cindy Jaggernauth, Lalita Mendonza, Patricia Asgerally, Josiah Khan, Salima Juman–Dinmohamed and Chetram Ramphal.
On a similar number of summary charges, the defendant pleaded not guilty to failing to render assistance.
Police said that the defendant on the said date whilst behind the wheel of GLL 8863, having being involved in an accident whereby injuries were caused failed to render any assistance by failing to take the said persons to a registered medical practitioner for medical treatment.
Police Corporal Roberto Figueira, prosecuting, objected to pretrial liberty while noting that Moonsammy had caused the death of twelve persons.
“If bail is granted there is a likelihood that he would not attend his trial. This offence was committed on the Number 19 Public Road. The accused instead of rendering assistance fled the scene”, the prosecutor told the court. Relatives of the deceased were not present in the courtroom.
Attorney-at-law Mursalene Bacchus, representing Moonsammy, reminded the court of the case of the State versus Compton English who was charged with 76 counts of simple larceny, allegedly committed over a period of time, but yet that defendant was allowed bail by Justice Rishi Persaud.
His client, he said, resides with his reputed wife Radica Persaud at Lot 36 Johanna South, Black Bush Polder along with their eight-year-old child.
The lawyer informed the court that the defendant is responsible for the maintenance of three other children born to his reputed wife.
According to Bacchus, Moonsammy is a rice farmer and currently has 150 acres of rice which should be reaped shortly.
“The allegation is that 12 persons had died. The figure 12 should not be taken into consideration. If it was recklessness, he would have been charged with manslaughter. The defendant has no intention to flee the jurisdiction. The prosecution must have proof that the defendant wants to flee,” stressed Bacchus, while showing the magistrate the defendant’s passport which had expired since June last.
“Although the case is high profile, the offence is just an allegation,” the attorney stated. He also said that it was untrue that the defendant had fled the scene. Bacchus said Moonsammy was so confused that he went to the Whim Police Station where he reported the matter, and was brought back to the scene.
“There is no sufficient ground established by the prosecution for bail to be refused,” reiterated Bacchus. However, Magistrate Nagamootoo on hearing the submissions denied bail and remanded Moonsammy to prison until January 3, 2011.
Bacchus thereafter informed the Berbice media that he will make a bail application in Georgetown, as there is no judge in Berbice who is conducting criminal trials.