Yankates Reddy Walks Free After 2015 Case Is Dismissed

It was alleged that Reddy, while driving a truck along the Labasa-Seaqaqa Highway, drove in a dangerous manner resulting in the death of Mr Chand. 
25 Apr 2023 09:22
Yankates Reddy Walks Free After 2015 Case Is Dismissed
Yankates Reddy and lawyer, Angeline Sumer of Gibson and Company outside the Magistrates Court in Labasa on April 24, 2023. Photo: Sampras Anand

Yankates Reddy walked away a free man yesterday after his case of nearly eight years was dismissed at the Magistrates Court in Labasa.

Reddy was acquitted of one count of dangerous driving occasioning death of Sharneel Shavneet Chand. The incident allegedly occurred on October 14, 2015.

He appeared before Magistrate Senileba Levaci and was represented by Angeline Sumer of Gibson and Company.

It was alleged that Reddy, while driving a truck along the Labasa-Seaqaqa Highway, drove in a dangerous manner resulting in the death of Mr Chand.


Prosecution’s Argument

During trial as read by Magistrate Levaci, Police prosecutor, Sergeant Vignesh Prasad, presented strong arguments that the accused had maneuvered to overtake the tractor driver despite the no overtake zone.

It was alleged that both vehicles slid into a residential property and the tractor crashed into the fence.

Property owner, Ram Krishna, informed the court that the victim was thrown out of the tractor when it hit the fence.

Sergeant Prasad said the weather condition was ideal for driving and this was not a factor.


Defence’s Argument

Defence lawyer, Sumer, argued that her client had overtaken, but this was done after Mr Chand had slowed down his tractor when it reached the top of the hill.

She said the tractor had zigzagged and to prevent the loss of load and Reddy had to continue to overtake the tractor.

“My client had made sure that the road in front was clear for an overtake after which he slowed his truck,” she said.

Ms Sumer denied that her client’s truckload had become entangled with the load on the victim’s trailer.

The defence presented the statement of a motor vehicle examiner working for the Land Transport Authority in 2015.

The examiner said there was a mechanical fault on the steering wheel and the tyre was punctured causing the tractor to swerve to the corner.

Also, defence proved that Mr Chand did not possess a valid tractor license and only had a Group 2 license.


Magistrate’s Findings

Magistrate Levaci concluded that the charge be dropped because the mechanical default error was the course of the accident.

And such the court found that the heavy load should not have been carried unless the tractor was consistently and properly repaired.


Bittersweet Ending

Outside court yesterday, Reddy was thankful to his lawyer for continuing to fight for justice.

“From Day 1 of the court proceedings in 2015, I kept the belief that I will succeed in proving myself guilty of the charge against me,” he said.

“A burden of worries and tension has been lifted off my shoulders and now I can focus on my family life once again.”

It was an early birthday present Mr Reddy too who will turn 70 in November. He credited his daughter-in-law for her tireless support and encouragement.

The Vunivau, Labasa resident has been driving a lorry for 43 years. It was his source of income.

Mr Reddy shared condolences to the family of the late Mr Chand and how could relate to the pain of losing a son because he had lost his too.



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