BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
THE court has sentenced a man found guilty for causing the death of five people at the Tenaru bridge last year to six year and six months.
Danny Benson was charged for five counts of manslaughter.
High Court Justice Maelyn Bird said manslaughter is a serious offence and the maximum penalty prescribed under our laws for that offence is imprisonment for life.
It is that serious because it involves the taking away of a man’s life through one’s negligence.
On July 7 2021 between 8pm to 9pm, the Benson was said to be drunk and driving a white Toyota Land Cruiser.
He was then spotted by a Police Patrol Team when he took off from the northern road at the KGVI crossroad.
Due to his careless driving at that time, the police patrol signalled him to stop but instead he tried to escape by driving through the middle of the single lane road without indicating lights to other vehicles on the road.
Justice Bird said despite signals from police to stop he drove on at very high speed.
During that time there was a fundraising at the western end of the old Tenaru bridge and the place was crowded with people attending the event.
In an attempt to avoid police patrol, he switched off the vehicle’s head lights and drove the vehicle towards the old Tenaru bridge towards the crowd.
It was during that time that the incident happened which resulted in the death of the five people.
Bird said the manner in which the prisoner was driving was extremely dangerous.
“You have no regard whatsoever for other road users and the public at large. You disregarded advise by your passengers to slow down.
“You were driving like a maniac and at night time and with your head lights off. As a result of your carelessness and negligence, you killed five people on the very same night.
“If you had your head lights on, you would have been able to see from a safe distance that people were congregated in the area for a fundraising,” Ms Bird said.
She also said the accident could have been avoided and loss of lives could even have been minimal if he drove the vehicle with due care and attention.
“These circumstances in my view makes your offending more serious than any other motor vehicle manslaughter cases previously dealt with by this court,” Bird added.