On 1st October in the Durban Magistrates Court 65 year old Robert Gilmore was sentenced to 7 years jail time, 5 for culpable homicide and 2 years for driving under the influence, for killing 3 year old William Ratcliffe.
In addition his license was permanently suspended.
Of note Mr Gilmore's blood result, that showed he was 4 times over the legal limit, was inadmissible as it was taken 2 hours after the crash.
However he was found guilty on the main count i.e. driving under the influence of an intoxicating substance. SADD hope many more Magistrates and Judges use this main count.
SAPS officers and paramedics are very knowledgeable about the effects excessive drinking has on a person, how they behave and drive, and so this evidence should be presented and will stand up in court to secure a conviction.
Magistrate Shoba expressed her horror at the extremely high prevalence of this crime in South Africa, and said there is no excuse, as everyone knows that alcohol impairs driving skills and therefore jail sentences are appropriate/recommended if someone is killed or severely injured.
SADD hope other Magistrates and Judges will also apply jail sentences and license suspensions or removals, to cut down this very preventable crime.
SADD have supported the Ratcliffe family and raised great media awareness about the rights of victims and the fact that drink drivers who kill or severely injure should be sent to jail.
Please refer affected families to us so we can offer them advice and support, send them our Grief literature, and help to get the appropriate convictions.
Read the Mercury article by clicking here.
Photos: Tania Broughton
Caro Smit comforts Suzette Ratcliffe.
Insert: William Ratcliffe
SADD with Suzette Ratcliffe and members of her support team in Durban.
Robert Gilmore behind his attorney.