Death truck was old, not roadworthy, driver tells cops
The taxi that was crushed by a garbage truck in the gruesome crash that claimed the life of a seven-year-old Benjamin Bair in 2019. (Photo: Garfield Robinson)

THE garbage truck that crushed and killed seven-year-old Benjamin Bair on the grounds of Clan Carthy Primary School in October 2019 was an "old truck" that was "not roadworthy".

That declaration was made by the truck driver Alten Brooks and was confirmed during an official examination of the vehicle after the tragic incident.

The examiners found "that there was excessive free play of the steering wheel due to worn defective components and that the tires on the truck were worn and not roadworthy".

The lanky white-haired Brooks, clad in a grey T-shirt and pale blue jeans which lingered several inches above his ankles, cut a forlorn figure in the dock on Wednesday, his replies to the judge muted and listless. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and will be sentenced on January 13, 2023. The matter did not go to trial based on the fact that a plea deal was struck between the prosecution and the defence in the matter.

In the incident, which rocked the school community at the time, Bair, on Monday, October 28, 2019, was on the compound of the school located in St Andrew waiting to be picked up when the tragedy unfolded.

Brooks, who was in his 60s at that time, was the driver of the garbage truck that had been contracted by the school to clear garbage.

Brooks — according to details read into the records of the court on Wednesday by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Paula Llewellyn, King's Counsel — drove onto the compound at approximately 4:30 pm accompanied by two side men. Upon reaching the garbage area, he was told to operate the compactor, which ran on the throttle of the vehicle, by the side men so they could get more space in the truck for the garbage that was there.

Brooks, the DPP said, used a stick to press down on the accelerator pedal in the truck before exiting the vehicle and heading to the back of the truck. While outside the truck, it drove off at a high speed and collided into a Toyota motorcar parked on the compound, causing it to overturn.

While the students in the schoolyard at the time ran to avoid being hit, Bair, who the court was told also started to run, was trapped by the truck which overturned on him, killing him on the spot.

Brooks and his two side men then fled the scene.

Three days later Brooks turned himself in to the police and upon being cautioned said, "Officer, mi nuh waan go jail, cyaan manage it".

When a warrant for prosecution was executed on him, Brooks, under caution, said, "Officer, mi sorry — a old truck; yuh haffi bridge it fi start it, it nuh roadworthy".

On Wednesday, Brooks' attorney Davion Vassell, in noting that his client has been on bail since 2019 and has been adhering to the bail conditions, requested that his bail be extended pending sentencing.

Brooks will be sentenced in January before Justice Leighton Pusey who heard the matter.

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter

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