October 1, 2022

Cayman Judge says witnesses must have courage and supply information re criminal activity

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Judge hammer gavelIn a ruling given by Cayman Islands Justice Charles Quin in the Cayman Grand Court last Tuesday (20) on a No Case Submission, the judge said:

“I note that there are seven (7) civilian witnesses named on the back of the Indictment – only two of whom have provided statements. This means that there are at least five other witnesses who know something about the events on the evening of the 24th August 2013 at 106 Powell Smith Drive, West Bay, and about the identity of the man known as the shooter. The Court has been told that the other witnesses are too frightened to come forward to give evidence about this shooting and, consequently, the shooter is not apprehended.

“The Courts have some sympathy for witnesses who have been intimated but people must have the courage to come forward with information about criminal activity. Somebody knows about the shooter and about the gun he used and it is absolutely vital that those knowing anything about this incident come forward and provide the police with this vital information to enable the police to apprehend the person or persons responsible for a very serious crime. The entire community must support the police to rid this country of the menace and danger of illegal firearms. Illegal firearms are a persistent problem, which, if continued unabated, will bring further fear and harm to the lives of law-abiding citizens who only wish for the return to peace for Grand Cayman”

The case concerned an illegal immigrant from Jamaica, Joseph St. Aubryn Hill, who had arrived in Grand Cayman it seemed to sell drugs.

The Crown had pressed charges against Hill for possession of an unlicensed firearm and wounding as part of a joint enterprise with a suspect who remains at large and known only as ‘JR’.

Hill denied the charges and said he had been ordered to go with JR by a man called ‘Mr Biggs’ with whom he was staying when he arrived in Cayman two days before and said his life was threatened. Hill said he was told if he kept his mouth shut he would live.

When the men arrived at an address, Powell Smith Drive, Hill told the police that JR produced a gun (a .38 pistol), threatened him and told him to go knock on a door. As he did JR started shooting and wounded the occupant, Charles Ebanks, and warned Hill to get out of the way otherwise he would get shot too.

Hill said that JR was a young, slim-brown skinned Caymanian who had made it clear his life was under threat and whatever he had done at Ebanks’ house was under duress.

The wounding took place on the 24th August 2013.

The Crown were unable to produce any witnesses as to what happened and that included the wounded Charles Ebanks.

Hill’s lawyer, John Furniss, after the close of the Crown’s case made a no-case-submission on behalf of his client.

Justice Quin in his ruling agreed.

“There is an absence of evidence to show that there was common intention and agreement over the gun and the use of the gun,” he said.

The judge pointed to what evidence there was that came only from Hill. JR always had care and control of the firearm and Hill knew nothing of it until JR produced it and threatened him with it. Justice Quin also said there was no evidence before the court that Hill knew who JR planned to shoot and the Crown had not presented any evidence to contradict Hill’s account.

The evidence against Hill was so “intrinsically weak and so discredited it could not conceivably support a guilty verdict” the judge said and discharged the defendant.

As there was no record of Hill ever landing legally in Cayman, his guilty plea before the summary court for drug charges as well as his own admission of a staying in houses with people he knew only by aliases and driving around a strange country in a drunken stupor, Justice Quin said his presence in Cayman was extremely suspicious and recommended his immediate deportation.

The judge commended the Crown counsel, Ms. Petit, for her presentation saying her case had been “frustrated by the unwillingness of potential Crown witnesses to come forward and give evidence in these proceedings. The fact that these persons have not come forward is deeply regrettable.”

He also said the two police officers who had conducted the investigation thoroughly and had “received some very important intelligence about a gunman known as JR.”







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