PC: ‘Dixon covered up DUI’

| 29/09/2009

(CNS): The long awaited trial of  Deputy Police Commissioner Rudolph Dixon opened in Grand Court today with a police constable testifying that he believed the ‘old boy network’ was at play when he accused Dixon of making charges against former Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Evans go away. The third court room drama initiated by the discredited UK investigation Operation Tempura sees Dixon charged with misconduct in a public office because he instructed officers to let Evans go after he was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

Before calling his first witness, Andrew Radcliff QC, the prosecuting lead attorney, told the jury that they may already have a view about Operation Tempura and it may not be a favourable one. However, he said the jury must put this case in its proper context. He said that this would not have come to light were it not for the work of Operation Tempura but the prosecution was brought not by those officers, but by the attorney general.

Radcliff suggested that letting Evans go was “outrageous behaviour and criminal conduct” on the part of Dixon. He said everyone should be treated equally before the law but, he said, “Rudolph Dixon had fixed the case and made it go away” to help what Radcliff suggested was a friend, former colleague and possible mentor to Dixon throughout his career.

The prosecution’s case now rests solely on this one incident, for which Dixon faces two charges – either misconduct in a public office or perverting the course of justice. The jury of four women and three men were told they should only consider the second if they cannot convict on the first.

Radcliff first placed on the stand the Crown’s key witness, Graham Summers, a serving UK police officer who was a PC in the RCIPS from 2001 to 2004 and who has returned to Cayman to give evidence.

Summers told the court that, while off duty one evening in April 2004, he was driving from Hurley’s roundabout east when he had spotted a Ford truck swerving dangerously across the road with a child passenger and began to follow it. As he did the driving became more erratic and he called 911 to ask for a police car and followed the truck to a house in Savannah. Asked by the prosecution counsel what happened when he arrived at the house, Summers said he asked the man if he could talk to him, but the man first went inside the house to put his young grandchild in doors.

When the man came out they spoke for a few moments before the police car arrived. Summers then told the uniformed officers what he had seen and that it was this man who was driving and he believed he was drunk. It was then that Sommers said he learned that Evans was a former deputy commissioner in the RCIPS.

He said the officers who arrived did not have a breathalyzer so they called for a traffic unit car, which soon followed. Summers told the court that the officers were uncomfortable with the situation but Evans was asked to blow into the device. However, Summers suggested that Evans was uncooperative and the officers couldn’t get a reading on the first attempt. On the second attempt the machine malfunctioned. Sensing the discomfort from the other officers at the scene, Summers said he insisted the man was arrested on suspicion of DUI, which he was. “There was a lot of hesitancy and the other officers were looking to the Sergeant at the scene for guidance,” he said.

As he left the scene, Summers said he called ahead to Burman Scott, the duty officer for the evening at George Town police station. He first told the story without referring to the name of the arrested man. However, Summers said when he revealed Evans’ identity Burman Scott said to him, “No, no that man put pips on my shoulder.”

Summers continued with his evidence and told the jury that later that evening he received a call from Rudy Dixon, the Deputy Commissioner, who told him Evans had been released because Sommers had not been in uniform, and based on a previous case there would be no chance of prosecution. Summers told the court he was angry and upset and was “robust” with Dixon, pressing for details on the legal authority as he insisted the arrest was made by a uniform officer and not him and therefore would be a safe arrest. He said Dixon would not furnish him with the details of the stated case.

A few days after the incident Summers said he wrote a report about the evening’s events, which he gave to his senior officer at Bodden Town Police station, the then police Commissioner Buel Braggs and DC Dixon. However, after a few weeks went by and he had still not heard from his superiors regarding the report, he tried to get an appointment with Braggs but failed. Sommers revealed how he then waited outside Braggs’ office for almost two hours one afternoon until the senior officer would talk to him about the incident.

He said that when he eventually spoke with Braggs he said he would look closely at the report and investigate the incident. However, Summers was due to return to the UK, and by the time he left in July, he said nothing happened until almost four years later when he was visited by two officers from Operation Tempura in Derbyshire, who interviewed him.

During cross examination, Dixon’s attorney Jonathan Rose took Summer through his interview with the Special Police Investigation Team (SPIT) from Operation Tempura, which differed considerably from his evidence given to the Crown based on the original report. He had told SPIT that he believed the officers at the scene of Evans house had deliberately told him the breathalyzer had malfunction and that they were trying to fob him off. Although in court he became very reluctant to admit that the officers at the scene were doing that and said it was only one possibility he was considering. During the interview with SPIT, Summers had admitted how angry he was and had shouted at senior officers to arrest Evans. He admitted to the court that he had raised his voice and been insistent saying, “Get this man under arrest.”

He also admitted that he may have asked Dixon to call him on the night and not the other way round as he believed he called the police station after the incident a number of times to make sure Evans was being processed.  

Cross examination by Rose continues on Tuesday morning in what is expected to be a lengthy ten day trial with more than 23 witnesses to be called.

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