Chef jailed for five years for killing student
© Copyright by The Royal Gazette Ltd
Bermuda, April 20, 2000
A St. George's chef, who drove whilst under the influence of alcohol and killed a young student, was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday. But Bissoonduthsing Ramchurn was released on bail pending an appeal into the penalty handed down in the Supreme Court.
Ramchurn was found guilty earlier in the year of the manslaughter of 23-year-old Catrin Schaefer, a visiting German student who was killed after celebrating the end of a week long biology trip to the Island.
Ms. Schaefer died from severe head injuries after her cycle was involved in a collision with a car driven by Ramchurn at Stonecrusher Corner on Kindley Field Road in September, 1998.
Evidence during the trial stated that Ramchurn's car was mostly on the wrong side of the road and was travelling fast prior to the collision. Ramchurn was sentenced to five years for manslaughter and was disqualified from driving for five years.
In addition, he was given three years for causing death by driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit and was disqualified from driving for two years. The sentences are to run concurrent.
During sentencing, Puisne Judge Philip Storr said: "This as a very serious matter. A sentence of imprisonment is inevitable in view of the serious nature of this crime.
"I take into account the conviction of manslaughter. The jury could only return that verdict, that you committed a breech of duty, gross negligence or disregard, causing death.
"By their verdict they said what they thought of your breech of duty to others on the road." Following the sentencing, Ramchurn's lawyer Philip Perinchief said he was appealing the conviction. A date could be set in June. He was released on $10,000 bail on the condition that he report to St. George's Police Station three times a week. Ramchurn's convictions came after a week long Supreme Court trial.
The court heard that Ms. Schaefer suffered spinal and head injuries after her rental scooter was involved in a collision with a Toyota Starlet driven by Ramchurn.
Ms. Schaefer was at the Swizzle Inn but had only drunk coke. However the defendant failed a breath test with a reading of 105 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
Ms. Schaefer, a student at Heinrich Heine University of Dusseldorf, had just completed a study week at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research when she died.