A 73-year-old man was sentenced to nine months for involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 38-year-old mother, who was fatally struck as she was crossing the street with her 6-year-old son.
The case dates back to February 2015, when the convicted man was driving along Tseriou Avenue in Nicosia’s Strovolos area and struck Styliana Papageorgiou, fatally wounding her as she pushed her young boy out of the way.
The man said he did not see Papageorgiou at all and did not slow down prior to the impact, with his speed estimated at about 38 kilometres in a 50Km zone.
He saw the 38-year-old woman lying on the floor and a young child crying next to her
“While he was driving he heard a ‘bam’” coming from the right front side of his vehicle and he saw the side mirror hanging loose, according to what was said in Nicosia district court.
He then heard a few more sounds coming from underneath.
At that point, the man said he still didn’t know what had happened, he stopped and came out of his vehicle.
He saw the 38-year-old woman lying on the floor and a young child crying next to her.
The court heard testimony that the woman, who had walked with her son for about three metres into the lane of the oncoming vehicle, managed to push her son out of harm's way just before she was struck by the oncoming vehicle and landed in the middle of the road.
Alcohol was involved
According to police, the man had been drinking prior to the accident, with initial Breathalyzer test showing 107 μg% of alcohol in his bloodstream and a secondary test at the police station registering 65 μg% which was three times over the limit of 22.
A police officer testified in court that the man reeked of alcohol and couldn’t even stand on his own two feet.
“I just had a drink,” the man had told the officer that day.
Other factors involved
The judge took into consideration the fact that the mother had tried to cross the street at a quick pace without first making sure the driver had stopped, while the man was driving with his low beam lights on.
Police also told the court that the impact took place at a point after the driver had already gone through a pedestrian crossing point a few metres further back.
The 73-year-old was sentenced to nine months in prison, a suspended driver’s permit for 18 months, and he also received 10 points on the penalty system.
The court said the man did not show remorse for his actions and made no attempt to stop.
“Due to unreasonable, reckless or dangerous act or conduct, which did not amount to negligence, he unintentionally caused the death of pedestrian Styliana,” the court said.
Justice system under criticism
The trial process had been criticised in the local media, following delays reportedly due to the driver's attorney who asked for more time due to other workload.
Charges were also withdrawn initially on the basis they were filed improperly the first time, with the husband of the victim filing a complaint with the attorney general's office.
Reports of the husband telling local media that the driver was still driving around during the delays, almost one year after the accident, also caused tension surrounding the case.