Trinidad man gets 11 months for fatal accident

(Trinidad Express) A tragic love story.

This were the words used to describe the relationship between Anthony and Violet Nelson.

Violet Nelson married her teenaged crush, Anthony Nelson. They had a child who died and three years later they had another baby. This child was eight months old when her father died in a vehicular accident on a Carnival Monday ten years ago.

The man who caused the accident, Jason Samaroo, was last month found guilty of causing Nelson’s death by dangerous driving. Jason Samaroo was the driver of the vehicle which struck head-on the car in which Nelson was a passenger.

Samaroo, 41 of Morne Diablo was yesterday sentenced to a jail term before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds at the San Fernando High Court.

Jason Samaroo

The judge said, “I am acutely aware that there’s no sentence that can adequately address the deprivation and devastation to the loved ones. No amount of compensation, no term of imprisonment, no stern sentiment can assuage the trauma associated with Mr Nelson’s death.”

She then read the victim impact statements of Nelson’s mother, his wife and 18-year-old daughter.

Lucie Nelson, Anthony’s mother, said since her son passed away she everyday feels a pain in her belly.

“Sometime I feel like I want to die myself.” She spoke of losing not only her first born but also her best friend and confidante. Anthony Nelson was 29 years old when he was killed. Lucie Nelson said, “Every time I hear about an accident on the news or see it on television, I relive the moment I saw my son that night. It’s like living in a nightmare all the time. All I can say is nothing can bring back my son nor take away this empty feeling inside of me or take away the pain I feel every day. “

Nelson said her son had a willing mind and he would always ensure that she returned home from work to a clean house and a hot meal. She also said that he supported the family financially and had he been alive she would not still have to work.

Nelson’s teenaged daughter Aleen Edwards said the loss of her father left her “heartbroken, sad and empty”. She was nine years old when he died and now lives with her grandmother. She said she missed her father and would feel left out at functions when others were with their fathers.

Violet Nelson said she started a relationship with Nelson at 16 years. She said, “Our relationship brought forth our first child when I was 20. Unfortunately, that child passed away. Our daughter Jacey was born three years after. She was only eight months old when Anthony got into the accident (and) because of this tragedy my child does not know her father and is growing up without the love protection of a guidance of (her father)”

The woman said it is difficult “having to explain mostly on a daily basis that the reason she has no father is because of the recklessness of another man.”

She said she still cannot deal with Anthony Nelson’s loss and “I just put a smile on my face but I grieve every day.”

In passing sentence, Ramsumair-Hinds considered the aggravating factors of the offence which included that Samaroo placed the blame on Mhina Wharwood, the driver of the other car, and that Wharwood and another passenger were injured. Wharwood had injuries to his head and feet while another passenger, Kairon Cornwall, was unconscious for over a week and sustained fractures to his face and skull. The mitigating factors included that Samaroo had a good driving record and suffered injuries, although fewer than the other victims, in the crash.

The judge set a starting point to Samaroo’s sentence at two years.

She then considered that Samaroo was a first time offender, had an impeccable character -several testimonials were submitted to the court with regard to this, that he was the father of two children, the family’s sole breadwinner and had not transgressed against the traffic laws for ten years.

Samaroo’s attorney Renuka Rambhajan read his letter of apology to Nelson’s family and also a letter penned to the judge. Ramsumair-Hinds however said that Samaroo’s expression of remorse “amounted to very little more than self-pity for your own predicament.”

After considering these and the imposition of compensation, the judge adjusted the starting point to 12 months.

The two weeks Samaroo spent in custody awaiting sentencing was also deducted. Samaroo was sentenced to a term of 11 months and two weeks at hard labour.

He was also ordered to pay $50,000 in compensation before April 2021. This money is to be shared between the wife and two children.

Samaroo was also disqualified from holding or obtaining a driver’s permit for two years. However should he pay the compensation and complete a defensive driving course, he could petition the court for his driver’s permit.

How the crash happened

Anthony Nelson was the front seat passenger of a blue hatchback Toyota Corolla driven by Mhina Wharwood in February 23 2009 when there was the head-on crash.

Wharwood testified in the case led by State attorneys Stacy Laloo Chon and Josanne Forrester, that he was on his way from Penal Rock Road along with three passengers including Nelson. Cornwall and Dane Ellis were in the back seat of the car. Wharwood said they were heading to Penal around 1.30 a.m.

He said he was coming out of an ‘S’ corner when he saw bright lights and then there was the collision. He testified that he was driving along the left side of the road and the car came “directly on my side of the road.”

Wharwood said he awoke hours later at the San Fernando General Hospital. He spent a week and a half at the hospital. He told the court he was then taken by police officers including corporal Ramkissoon to the scene of the accident and he also gave them a statement.

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