KZN motorist who killed 2 cyclists granted bail after month in prison

2018-06-25 13:40
Omesh Ramnarain has been sentenced to 10 years in jail. (Tania Broughton, News24, file)

Omesh Ramnarain has been sentenced to 10 years in jail. (Tania Broughton, News24, file)

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After spending exactly one month in jail, motorist Omesh Ramnarain was granted bail on Monday.

This is pending the outcome of his appeal against the culpable homicide convictions and 10-year prison sentence he received for crashing into and killing two cyclists on the M4 in Durban in February 2016.

KwaZulu-Natal High Court Judge Mokgere Masipa, who presided over Ramnarain's appeal against trial Magistrate Anand Maharaj's refusal of bail pending appeal, overturned the ruling.

READ: 10 year jail sentence for motorist who killed two cyclists in Durban

She set bail at R30 000 and ordered Ramnarain to hand over his driving licence to the investigating officer and, should his appeal fail, to report to Westville Prison within 72 hours of that decision.

She also instructed that he process his appeal within the time frames set out by the rules of court, and not to drag the matter out.

Blood test

Cyclists Richard da Silva and Jarred Dwyer were at the back of a pack on an early morning ride up the KwaZulu-Natal north coast when Ramnarain, who was returning from a nightclub, smashed into them.

While witnesses said he smelt of alcohol, the blood test was taken outside of the legislated two-hour window period and was not admitted into evidence during his trial.

He claimed to have had four drinks during the evening and said he did not see the cyclists at all.

In her ruling, the judge said the law dictated that she could not interfere with the bail refusal unless she was satisfied that it was wrong.

One of the crucial questions to be asked was whether or not Ramnarain had a reasonable prospect of succeeding in his appeal.

"This question is answered by the mere fact that the [trial] court granted leave to appeal and that it was of the view that it was highly probable that another court would find in Ramnarain's favour."

She said Ramnarain had been acquitted on the drunk driving charge and that there was evidence that a rock had been found in his car, which could have been thrown at his windscreen, shattering it, so that he could not see in front of him.

"Several crucial State witnesses were found to be unreliable," Judge Masipa said.

"The court ought to have considered whether it was in the interests of justice to release him. On the facts before me, there is nothing to suggest that he will endanger the safety of the public or commit another offence... there is nothing to suggest that he will abscond.

"The trial is over, so there can be no issue of him influencing witnesses or destroying evidence.

"It was wrong for the [trial] court to disregard the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act and take an emotional approach for the benefit of setting an example.

"The court dismally failed to seek a balance… it focused on and sought to punish the appellant [Ramnarain] and overlooked all other considerations," the judge said.

Relatives of the two cyclists did not wish to comment.

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