07 Jul 2015 Drunk driver gets time behind bars
The drunk driver who hit and killed Port Elizabeth cyclist Clem Morris in 2012 will spend at least eight months behind bars, an appeal court has ruled, before he may become eligible for another form of correctional supervision, such as house arrest, for the remainder of his four-year sentence in respect of one of the counts on which he was found guilty.
André Gouws (28) alleged in his plea that he “fell asleep for a split second” on 7 October 2012 while driving along the Kragga Kamma road after consuming alcohol the previous afternoon and evening, causing his vehicle to drift across the road where he collided with 66-year old Clem Morris, killing him on impact.
Gouws fled the scene, but was arrested later.
Gouws pleaded guilty to charges of culpable homicide; driving whilst under the influence of alcohol, failing to stop after the accident, and failing to render assistance to the victim.
Initially it seemed as though Gouws would not be imprisoned after his conviction. PPA, who was requested to assist in the prosecution of the case by the victim’s attorney, appointed an advocate from the Cape Bar to assist the victim’s attorney in Port Elizabeth and the prosecutor who was dealing with the matter in the hope of bolstering the prosecution of the matter in order to obtain a suitable conviction. The result was that Gouws was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by the magistrate who dealt with the matter in Port Elizabeth.
Gouws appealed the sentence imposed by the magistrate, with the appeal court setting aside the original sentence and instead sentencing Gouws to four years’ imprisonment under Section 276(1)(i) of the Criminal Procedure Act. This means that he will serve a minimum of one sixth of his sentence in custody, whereafter his parole officer will have the discretion to convert his remaining period of custody to correctional service, such as house arrest. His driver’s license was also suspended for two years.
“Not only did the appellant cause the death of a highly respected and outstanding man on both a personal, family and professional level, but this has inevitably also impacted dramatically on his own life and of course those associated with the deceased,” the appeal court judgement read. The appellant made an apology to the family of the deceased, which the Magistrate accepted as genuine.
“The Pedal Power Association is delighted that justice has been served,” PPA Chairman Steve Hayward said. “We certainly hope that this case will set a precedent for future cases involving collisions between motorists and cyclists and an example in looking after the rights of cyclists,” Hayward said.