Roger charged in fatal crash
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
Veteran politician Roger Clarke now faces the threat of imprisonment after Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn yesterday ruled he should be charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
Clarke, 70, who says he has never previously had an incident in his 50 years of driving, was involved in an accident in August that led to the death of motorcyclist Daron Nicholson.
His attorney, K.D. Knight, told The Gleaner yesterday that he would fight to ensure the Central Westmoreland member of parliament is acquitted.
"We will be presenting our case when the time comes and we feel that, having regard to the entire circumstances, we expect exoneration," Knight said.
If convicted, Clarke faces up to five years in prison.
In the August incident, a Toyota Prado Land Cruiser driven by Clarke collided with Nicholson. The accident took place along the Nightingale Grove Road in St Catherine.
Yesterday, Knight would not respond directly on whether he was surprised by Llewellyn's ruling. He, however, said "the DPP would have papers that I would not yet have".
"It is not a matter of being surprised. It is a matter of anticipating the decision, and then if there is disagreement with the decision that disagreement is dealt with in court," Knight said.
Clarke is the fourth legislator in the current Parliament to be slapped with a criminal charge, following West Portland MP Daryl Vaz, West St Thomas' James Robertson and North East St Elizabeth's Kern Spencer.
Vaz was charged by the Portland police with breaches of the Public Order and Jamaica Constabulary Force acts.
Robertson was charged with obstructing the police and using abusive and calumnious language. He apologised in court to the police and was admonished and discharged.
Spencer, who succeeded Clarke in North East St Elizabeth, is before the court on fraud-related charges for his alleged role in the Cuban light-bulb scandal.
Political scientist Richard Crawford said yesterday it was worrying that four MPs have been charged criminally since the 2007 general election, but argued that "one would want to be more understanding and sympathetic to Clarke as his accident was unplanned".
Soon after the accident, Clarke told The Gleaner it had severely affected him and noted that he had lost his appetite for food and was having difficulty sleeping.
On his political future he had added: "If I found myself in a situation where this would cause me not to be able to carry out my duties, in terms of representation and looking after their (constituents') welfare, I would go. I do think about that. I am human."