Durban motorist found guilty of killing 2 cyclists

Motorist Omesh Ramnarain has been found guilty of culpable homicide for the deaths of two cyclists who he crashed into - throwing their bodies and bikes into the air - on the M4 leading out of Durban in February 2016.

Pending sentence next month, Durban Regional Court Magistrate Anand Maharaj extended Ramnarain's bail of R10 000, on condition that he hand over his driver's licence, which he did shortly after judgment was handed down on Friday.

Ramnarain had left a nightclub at about 05:00 and, according to witnesses, was travelling at high speed when he crashed into Jarred Dwyer and Richard da Silva, who were at the back of a group of cyclists on a recreational ride.

ALSO READ: Motorist in court for Durban cyclists' death gives his version to court

The State alleges that he had been drunk at the time. He claims he had only had four Hunters Golds and was not under the influence of alcohol.

While several witnesses testified that they had smelled alcohol on his breath, a blood sample was taken more than two hours after the legal time limit, and Maharaj acquitted him on the charge of driving under the influence.

Ramnarain’s version was that he had been driving at 100km/h, behind another vehicle which blocked his view, when it suddenly swerved on to an off-ramp. Moments later, he heard a thud, his windscreen shattered, and then another thud.

He said he had not seen the cyclists at all.

It was suggested that a rock, found on the passenger side of his vehicle, may have been thrown at his car, causing the accident.

READ: I was not drunk - motorist charged with killing two cyclists

But this was rejected by Maharaj.

"It is highly improbable that the moment the other car took the glide-off, a rock was thrown at you. You did not report this to anyone at the scene, nor to the police," he said.

"It is even more improbable, given the distance from the impact to the overhead bridge."

'His version cannot be true'

In spite of suggestions, during cross-examination of the State’s witnesses by defence advocate Murray Pitman, that the cyclists had been travelling in the slow lane, the magistrate ruled that the collision had taken place in the emergency lane.

"His version cannot be true. I find that he was negligent, acted unlawfully and did not keep a proper look-out," he said.

With regards to the removal of the driver's licence as a condition of the extension of bail, Pitman consented, but said "the issue can be dealt with properly" during sentencing proceedings.

Ramnarain spent about 10 minutes in the cells below court while his family located the licence.

Pre-sentencing reports will be handed in when the matter is next before the court on May 25.

Prosecutor Herman Mouton is expected to ask that Ramnarain be imprisoned, while the defence will argue for a non-custodial sentence based on the fact that he was not found to have been drunk at the time of the accident.

Relatives of Dwyer and Da Silva, who have been at court on every occasion, declined to comment yesterday.

They asked for privacy and said they would speak after sentencing.

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