“Keystone cops” got it wrong

| 10/09/2009

(CNS): Despite the fact that Crown counsel told the jury that their feelings towards newspaper publisher Desmond Seales or Operation Tempura shouldn’t impact their decision on the guilt or otherwise of Lyndon Martin, his defence counsel pointed out that both were, in fact, central to the whole “scandalous” trial. Trevor Burke QC told the jury that almost the minute "the keystone cops stepped off the plane they got it wrong.”  He said that all roads led to Seales and that the behaviour of the Operation Tempura officers at the cost of the Cayman public was “an outrage".

During his closing submissions to the court, Andrew Radcliffe QC, on behalf of the Crown told the jury that neither Desmond Seales nor the officers from Operation Tempura were on trial, and while the fallout from the investigation had been enormous, it was essentially down to Lyndon Martin.

Radcliffe told the court that Crown witnesses had been angry at the wrong people. He said Seales was angry at Evans, Evans was angry at Tempura, Ennis was angry at Kernohan, but Radcliffe told the jury that Martin was where they should be directing their anger. Radcliff even implied that while everyone was angry with Martin Bridger over the unlawful arrest of Justice Alex Henderson, Bridger and the other officers were only in Cayman because of Martin, who had made the allegations against Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis.

However, in his closing address on behalf of the defendant Lyndon Martin, Burke pointed out that the suggestion that Martin was responsible for the unlawful arrest of Justice Henderson was preposterous. No one was suing Lyndon Martin, he observed, adding that Martin had never even spoken to Justice Henderson. The defence counsel told the court that the Operation Tempura team had got it wrong at the outset when they fixed on the idea that the 3 September 2007 entry into Net News was a burglary, even though they were categorically and repeatedly told that it was not a burglary by the chief justice.

Burke noted that, on a slight contribution from John Evans, Bridger unlawfully arrested Justice Henderson and implied he was complicit in a burglary that never happened. “It was Bridger that got everything wrong and now we have the Crown saying it’s all Lyndon Martin’s fault!” Burke exclaimed.

He suggested that Martin was being used as the scapegoat for the Operation Tempura fiasco and explained how Martin had been arrested for the burglary that never happened, locked up for 15 days, grilled for hours, denied food and then the police had even denied having custody of him to his family.

Burke explained that all Martin had done in the first instance was to pass on information to Deputy Commissioner Rudy Dixon that someone was leaking information to Desmond Seales about senior police officers and it could be Anthony Ennis. He explained how Martin had said over and over again that he did not want to make a formal complaint, but because of a series of events, circumstances and agendas things spiralled.

He pointed out to the jury how Dixon would have been concerned because Seales was clearly being leaked information about his personal life and it would serve Dixon’s interests if it was Ennis that was the source of the leak given their continuing feud. Burke noted that it was Desmond Seales’ lies that had convinced Martin that Ennis was the source – and not just Martin, but John Evans as well, who had entirely and independently corroborated Martin’s accusations when he went to the commissioner with the information that Seales had told him Ennis was the source of the false information on the helicopter. Stuart Kernohan was therefore a willing listener when Dixon told him about Martin’s fateful comments that August evening in Royal Palms as he had already heard the same from Evans.

Burke said the prosecution had also presented the jury with a significant burden as they had placed two people on the stand as key witnesses of truth that were in conflict with each other. John Evans, the first of the Crown’s witnesses of truth, told several people, including the court, that Seales had told him Ennis was his source. Seales, who was also presented as a witness of truth, Burke explained, had said that Evans was lying, so clearly one of the Crown’s witnesses of truth was lying.

“This dog’s breakfast of a prosecution doesn’t work when one prosecution witness is calling the other a liar,” said Burke. He suggested to the jury that John Evans was telling the truth and that Seales performance in the court was probably enough for the jury to work out that Seales would lie at the drop of a hat. Far from Lyndon Martin triggering off the whole investigation, Burke told the court that “all roads led back to Desmond Seales”, who, he suggested, had spun a web of deceit for who-knows-what grandiose plans.

Burke reminded the jury that several Crown witnesses had got on the stand and described the kind of person Seales was, aside from being described as a weasel, vindictive and prepared to treat people like dogs, they had noted how he cultivated an image that he had a hotline to the prison, that he was all powerful and had a hold on everyone.

Burke noted that while Martin had eventually realized that his assumptions about Ennis were wrong, he had in the first instance many, many reasons to suspect that Ennis was Seales’ source because of Seales’ own comments and behaviour. Burke said Martin had gained nothing and got no reward for what he did. He took great risks to warn a friend and had ended up on trial for his trouble.

Burke observed that there clearly was a leak from the RCIPS to Seales, even though it was not Ennis, and Burke noted how the Operation Tempura team had just ignored that fact and never sought to discover who it was. Burke stated that they had “bigger fish to fry” and had gone after a high court judge and senior police officers for a burglary that never happened instead.

He said Martin had reported hearsay suspicions, which had been picked up by the senior officers in the RCIPS for their own reasons, and then it was Kernohan’s decision to bring in the officers from Scotland Yard and he soon came to realise that Bridger and Ashwin had got it all horribly wrong. Burke said he suspected that the whole trial against Martin would put everyone off ever telling the police their suspicions ever again, because if what they revealed to authorities turned out to be wrong they might just be arrested.

He also pointed out to the jury the irony of the sudden exoneration of John Jones, who was given his job back on the morning of the trial some seventeen months after his suspension from office – again for the burglary that never happened — as it was the only way the Crown could get the statement that Lyndon Martin had never signed into evidence.

Burke said that John Evans had been right when he said that Martin should not be on trial and described it as "little short of scandalous”, before telling the jury they had no choice but to find Lyndon Martin not guilty.  

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  1. - says:

    After all this this time, I finally learn what all those investigations were about! What I cant understand is why it costed the country so much- and now Martin is found not guilty? What a waste.

    BTW, that was a well said speech yesterday on the news! You go boy, and you know it would take a poor Caymanian not to try and sue. I guess next time he hears, or suspects something foul going on, he will keep it to himself… for what its worth.

  2. durrrr says:

    what happened to my post from yesterday? there was nothing libellous in it.


    Seales is at the centre of all of this Tempura mess, and in my opinion he should foot the bill for it.

    CNS: It included a comment about an ongoing trial. That trial is now over so you can resubmit the post.

  3. Anonymouse says:

    That was a certainty!…

    It’s very difficult to prove what someone really believes and if he did believe that there was something going between Seales and Ennis, based on the disinformation fed to him, then it’s a waste a time and many millions to bother bringing him to court…

    So "Operation Tempura" shall now be renamed "Operation Expensive Fiasco", the goal of which was always to discredit the Cayman Police and Judiciary in the eyes of the world, thanks to Perfidious Albion’s hidden agenda…

    Now, I expect that another million will be spent when Martin sues for false arrest, which is clearly the case here and government pays his legal fees…

    This is at least $15 million down the drain in total, a bill that the UK should be paying if it wasn’t so broke…