Published On: Thu, Nov 23rd, 2017

Driver who killed former Rotary President Manek sentenced to 24 months

PHILIPSBURG – The common Court of Justice sentenced Kevyn Maurice Cohen on Thursday to 24 months of imprisonment with 8 months suspended and 3 years of probation for causing a traffic accident on April 16, 2015 that took the life of former Rotary Club President Ramesh Bhagwandas Manek. The court also revoked Cohen’s right to drive a car for three years. The suspect was not present at sentencing.

The solicitor-general had demanded a punishment of 36 months with 18 months suspended at the appeal hearing on August 31.

The 53-year old Manek was jogging along the airport road on the morning of April 16, 2015 when Cohen drove his father’s Hummer at high speed into him during an ill-advised overtaking maneuver. The court established that Cohen was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. His blood-alcohol content was 1.2 gram per liter, while the legal limit in the Netherlands is 0.5 gram.

The court acquitted Cohen of manslaughter because there is insufficient evidence for the presence of (conditional) intention to victim’s death.

The court found proven that Cohen is guilty of causing the accident while he was under the influence of alcohol and while he was driving at a speed that was much to high for the situation on the Airport Road.

Cohen drove 92 kilometer per hour when the accident happened; the court considered Cohen’s claim that his speed was 60 kilometers not plausible. The maximum allowed speed on the Airport Road is 50 kilometers per hour.

The court ruled that it cannot reproach Cohen reckless driving. The legal term ‘reckless’ differs from the way it is used in everyday conversation. Recklessness cannot be concluded from the consequences of a traffic accident either. To prove reckless driving, the court has to establish certain facts and circumstances. These have to substantiate that extremely careless behavior of the defendant has created serious danger, and that the defendant was aware of this. The court ruled that the last element is lacking in this case but found proof that Cohen had acted “very careless.”

The court ruling states that Cohen deeply regrets the accident and that he had changed his life. However, the defendant kept denying his alcohol use and his high speed. “It does not appear that the defendant has shown insight and regret about this behavior.”

Dutch guidelines for this type of traffic accident advise a prison sentence between 12 and 36 months and a ban on driving a car for three to four years.

Because Cohen does not have a police record and because he has expressed regrets, the court decided to mitigate the punishment. The court also noted that alternatives for transportation by car are limited in St. Maarten; it therefore also mitigated the time Cohen is not allowed to drive.

The court did not confiscate the Hummer; it will be returned to its rightful owner, Cohen’s father. Confiscation of something that has been used to commit a crime is only possible when the owner of the item knew beforehand that it would be used for this purpose. Obviously, Cohen’s father was unaware that his son was going to cause a fatal traffic accident.