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‘Blasphemy of the Road Traffic Act’ - Jones, Lewis say confessed stuntman let off too easy as questions surround identity of real driver

Published:Thursday | August 22, 2019 | 12:14 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer

There are calls for the police to throw the book at the driver captured on tape performing a dangerous daylight stunt along a major thoroughfare in the Corporate Area recently.

Dennis Dietrih had apologised for the incident on Tuesday, claiming he was the driver of the vehicle. A different recording of the incident has thrown that into question as the police are now seeking to determine who the real driver was.

However, the police’s decision to pardon the confessed rogue on Tuesday had ignited a firestorm as many saw it as a slap on the wrist for a major traffic offence.

Among those who are not pleased is Dr Lucien Jones, vice-chairman of the National Road Safety Council.

“Like everyone else, I was alarmed and concerned that on the public road, the fellow could be performing a stunt like this,” Jones told The Gleaner. “I would have thrown the full book of the law at him and set an example for others who would be doing the same kind of nonsense on the road.”

Jones said that at the very least, there should have been a thorough investigation into the matter before cops met with Dietrih in the presence of the media on Tuesday, for the public apology. However, he pointed to possible difficulties the police may have had in building a strong case from video footage.

After meeting with Assistant Commissioner of Police Bishop Dr Gary Welsh, who heads the traffic division, Jones expressed satisfaction that the cop, who admitted to giving at least 140 pardon over three days, won’t be easing up on motorists who endanger other road users or violate traffic laws.

“He has assured me that the days of warning and pardoning are done. From now on, everybody who is caught is going to be ticketed or the full force of the law is going to be brought against them,” Jones said.

Speaking on RJR’s ‘Beyond The Headlines’ yesterday evening, Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson said that investigations into the matter are ongoing.

“There are two things. One has to do with identifying who [the driver] was. There are investigative leads that need to be pursued. Also, [there are investigations] in terms of the car itself. It is certainly clear that the public is interested in this and see this type of behaviour as absolutely unacceptable,” the commissioner said.

Speaking on the same programme, Retired Senior Superintendent Radcliffe Lewis, who once headed the traffic division, also disagreed with Welsh’s move to pardon the alleged offender. He recommended that Welsh not be part of any investigation having to do with the case to ensure transparency.

The former cop described what he saw on video footage, as “blasphemy of the road traffic Act” and referred to the vehicle Dietrih admitted to driving at the time of question as a “weapon of mass destruction”.