Man jailed for killing two in accident
THE driver involved in last year’s accident at Erakor Half Road that killed an eight months pregnant woman and the other driver and injured some tourists will serve 11 months in jail.
Justice JP Geoghegan sentenced Guillaume Kasten to 22 months imprisonment but suspended 11 months.
Mr Geoghegan said that Kasten was 25 years-old when he got involved in the accident.
He said that Kasten was working for his father driving his 16 seater Toyota Hiace bus with 16 passengers on-board heading to Port Vila after visiting Ekasup Cultural village at Erakor Half Road.
“He said that when Kasten left the village, he accelerated at high speed to around 100 to 120 kmh. He said that when approaching Elacbarum area, he saw some of his friends walking on the opposite side of the road and steered the bus directly to them, crossing from his side to the other side of the road.
He said that Kasten was playing a joke on his friends while maintaining that high speed and instead of returning back to his correct lane, he maintained his position on the wrong side while looking in the mirror to see what was the reaction of his friends to his practical joke.
He said that at that time the other bus was coming the opposite driving on his correct side and Kasten collided with it, killing the driver and a pregnant woman passenger.
He said that the nature of the offence committed by Kasten is very serious not only because of the deaths but the way he was driving on the wrong side of the road leading to some of the P&O tourists in his bus to be medivaced to New Caledonia and Australia.
He said that the unborn baby died and the driver also left his six daughters and two sons and their widowed mother.
He said that the family is now struggling to survive without a bread winner.
But he said that the pre-sentence report said that Kasten is a man of good character who has a good relationship with his family and is a first time offender – he was deeply remorseful when his case was dealt with in court.
Justice Geoghegan said that a custom ceremony is yet to be undertaken and the compensation report prepared regrettably only covered the driver but it is clear that he does not have any financial means to be able to pay that compensation. He said that the bus was fully insured and that insurance will sort out the victims’ families.
After considering all submissions from the from counsels, Justice Geoghegan adopted a starting point of three years and six months imprisonment but later deducted three months for good character and remorse.
He then took out another 11 months for early guilty plea leaving an end sentence of one year and 10 months imprisonment.
He said that there is also need to hold Kasten accountable for the offence he committed.
“Vanuatu is a country that relies heavily on tourism and is a country without a transport system,” he said.
“The public need to have confidence in the level of professionalism and competence of those who earn a living from transporting passengers.
“They need to know that when they are transported by professional drivers they will be transported by someone who undertakes a high degree of duty of care to ensure their safety and security”.