This followed the guilty pleas entered by Ralph Saea, 23, to one count of causing death by reckless or dangerous driving and one count of the presence of alcohol in a person’s blood.
His driving license was also disqualified for three years.
Principal Magistrate Felix Hollison said he hoped this sentence will send a deterrence message to all vehicle drivers to be more careful, vigilant and to simply avoid driving vehicles when one is under the influence of alcohol.
Saea hit the deceased with the vehicle he was driving at around 8 am on 26 September 2020 at the Corona Market at Tenaru area in Guadalcanal.
On the night before the fatal accident, the court had heard that Saea drunk 12 cans of beer with his cousins.
He then went to bed at about 3 am the next morning.
Saea woke up at 7 am and decided to take the vehicle to a village in Guadalcanal.
He intended to pick some people from the Mbarande area to another village.
Saea then drove off with the vehicle in an easterly direction at a speed of about 60 kilometres per hour.
The court then heard that whilst he was driving towards the Corona market, he saw a car parked beside the road on the left side of the road.
“As he got closer, that same vehicle signalled to turn to the lane he was driving,” Hollison said when delivering his sentence.
He said Saea, therefore, turned to the opposite lane and then intended to overtake the other vehicle.
However, the other vehicle however also veered off its lane in front of the accused’s vehicle in the direction behind the deceased’s vehicle.
“At that time the accused veered off the lane that he was driving and he turned right and hit the deceased together with the deceased’s vehicle.”
Hollison added that the impact moved the deceased and his vehicle about two meters backward.
“Earlier that morning, the deceased was driving a truck and stopped at Corona Market prior to being hit by the accused’s vehicle.
“He dropped off some women who were going to sell their garden products at that same market.
“He parked his vehicle, a two and a half tonne truck in a westerly direction on the left side of the Corona market,” Hollison further added.
The deceased stood in front of the vehicle with his back facing the main road whilst talking on a mobile phone when the accused’s vehicle hit him.
The deceased sustained very serious injuries and was unconscious and motionless.
He was taken to the National Referral Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Other people who were in the deceased’s vehicle also sustained injuries due to the collision.
Saea was intoxicated with the presence of an alcohol concentration of 0.138 percent in his bloodstream which was beyond the prescribed limit at the time of the offence.
Following the fatal accident, compensations were paid on different occasions to the deceased’s family.
A traditional reconciliation involving a Chupu was also held between the families of the two parties.
Total cash in the amount of $150,000 including the Chupu, Guadalcanal traditional shell money Talina, goods, other food crops, and fruits estimated to have been valued at more than $50,000 was given to the deceased’s family.
The total value of goods and compensation paid to the deceased’s family is around $200,000 or more.
He said driving at a high speed is quite unnecessary and excessive especially at Corona market where a number of people were present there.
“The manner in which the accused was driving not only was reckless and dangerous but at the same time risk the people’s lives.
Steven Weago from the Public Solicitor’s Office represented Saea while the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) prosecuted this matter.
By ASSUMPTA BONGIDANI