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Trigger-happy motorist gets five years for shooting

Published:Thursday | April 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

A businessman who let road rage get the better of him is to spend five years in prison for firing shots at a taxi driver who refused to move his motor car which was blocking traffic in Portmore, St Catherine, on the morning of February 10, 2007.

Douglas Grey, 52, of Old Hope Road, Kingston 6, had last week appealed his convictions and five-year prison sentence for illegal possession of firearm, shooting with intent and wounding with intent.

He was convicted in the Gun Court on September 30, 2009. Grey was in prison pending the outcome of his appeal.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal and ordered that his five-year prison term run from December 30, 2009.

The evidence given at the trial before Supreme Court judge Lloyd Hibbert, who convicted Grey, was that on the day of the incident, Grey was leaving a nightclub in Portmore when a taxi driver stopped at the entrance to the club to pick up passengers.

Grey told him to move out of the way but the taxi driver told him to wait. A heated argument developed. During the exchange, Grey fired two shots from his licensed firearm. One of the bullets hit the side of the taxi, while the other struck a man who was standing some distance from the altercation.

Pre-emptive self-defence

Grey had said, in his defence, that the taxi driver bent down in the car as if he were taking up an object. He said he thought the cabbie was going to attack him and he fired in pre-emptive self-defence.

Grey appealed on the grounds that he did not get a fair trial because there was variation between the two Crown witnesses about how the shots were fired. One of the witnesses said Grey was inside his motor car when he fired the shots while the other said he was outside the motor car.

The Court of Appeal, comprising Justices Seymour Panton, president of the Court of Appeal; Dennis Morrison and Patrick Brooks (acting), said it was not in dispute that Grey fired two shots and that the taxi driver was blocking his vehicle at the time. The court said the divergence in testimony was brought to the attention of the trial judge, who weighed the matter and preferred the word of one of the witnesses.

The court upheld submissions from attorneys-at-law Kathy Pyke and Greg Walcolm, who represented the Crown, that the trial judge was entitled to accept the testimony of one witness against another.

Grey, who was represented by attorney-at-law Richard Small, complained that his sentence was manifestly excessive, but the court disagreed.

- barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com