By Isanella Patoir
The family of national cyclist, Jude Bentley, who was struck down and killed on February 08, is outraged at the decision of Magistrate Rondell Weaver to dismiss the charge of causing death by dangerous driving against former Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Rear Admiral (ret’d), Gary Best.
The Magistrate on Thursday upheld a no-case submission made by defence attorney, Nigel Hughes on the grounds that the prosecutor failed to establish that Best was driving dangerously, which led to the death of Bentley. The case was prosecuted by Shellon Daniels.
“I was in court yesterday and I was shocked. The decision was outrageous; all I can say is that the judicial system seems corrupt, knowing this man had taken a life and she just let this man walked out of court,” Bentley’s father, Jude Bentley Snr. told the News Room on Friday.
“I could’ve understand if she said at least take six weeks community service or three months,” Bentley Snr. said.
Bentley Snr. said he will soon be meeting with his attorney to have the decision appealed in the Court of Appeal.
He explained that the magistrate on Thursday ruled that the breathalyzer test used in the investigation was not standardized and so the results were invalid.
The police had claimed that the former Army Chief was found to be way above the legal alcohol limit when he was tested.
“She [the magistrate] said that these kits need to be calibrated every six months and apparently the kit was over a year old. It seems like the police doing the breathalyzer test don’t even have a clue what is going on,” Bentley Snr., a father of five, said.
“So any driver that go to court with a matter of intoxication could get off, according to what this magistrate said?” the distraught father said.
According to him, the magistrate, in arriving at her decision to let Best walk free, stated that the cyclist’s bicycle had no reflector lights on the morning of the accident.
“If he was a regular man, he would’ve have gone Durban and Camp Street. Watch how long they take to charge this man…in the first instance they were pussyfooting all the time; this man should have never gotten off, he was highly intoxicated, he win for now because of the system and the people.
“The justice system, it sucks in this country,” a frustrated Bentley Snr. said.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) late February had recommended that Best be charged for Bentley’s death. Best, 61, of Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara, had pleaded not guilty to the charge. Best was out on $500,000 bail during the trial.
Meanwhile, last month, Hughes made a no-case submission calling for the charge to be dismissed against his client on the grounds that the prosecution failed to prove key elements of the case.
The 41-year-old national cyclist was killed on the Rupert Craig Highway on February 8 while training; he was struck down by a Land Cruiser driven by Best.
Two weeks after his death, Bentley’s friends and family picketed outside the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court and called for charges to be laid against Best.
Bentley, who was also a businessman, started a movement- 592 Bike Life- aimed at empowering and bringing youths together. He represented Guyana at international cycling events and even rode for Trinidad.