Con man’s sentence slashed

| 15/07/2013

(CNS): A local businessman who was serving a four and a half year prison sentence after he was convicted of conning almost $100,000 from customers of his geo-thermal air conditioning systems had his sentenced almost halved by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal Monday. In the first case before the three judge appeal panel in this summer's session, Ben Tonner of Samson McGrath successfully argued that the jail time handed down to his client, Derrick Thomas, by Justice Charles Quin in April was too harsh. The higher court, led by the president Sir John Chadwick, found that the judge’s starting point was too high when they cut the sentence down to two and a half years.

Thomas was convicted following an eleventh hour guilty plea to five out of sixteen counts in connection with a serious of thefts between June 2009 and January 2010, where he took money from several customers for the installation of the specialist air-conditioning systems but never followed through on the work. He was also convicted of obtaining services by deception in connection with bad cheques he gave to Cayman Free Press for the advertising he placed to promote his business.

Justice Quin had described Thomas as the “consummate con man” who was unable to manage his business properly, when he handed down the hefty sentence as a result of Thomas’ previous convictions for dishonesty and because he had accepted the crown’s position that the theft was also a breach of trust case.

However, the appeals court disagreed with the sentencing judge’s position. They found that this was not a traditional breach of trust case as Thomas was not a lawyer, accountant or an employee of a professional services firm but had conned his customers out of deposits or money on accounts that they would expect to pay up front for in the normal course of events for any type of contractual work. They also noted that the sums that Thomas stole, although considerable, were not enough to place it in the highest brackets of the sentencing guidelines for theft as set outby the chief justice.

The judges noted that Thomas as a business man was a “complete disaster” but when he realized he was not able to fulfill the obligations under the contracts he had made, instead of calling a halt to the situation he carried on selling the concept and taking money from new customers for contracts that he knew he would never be able to meet.

“This was not a case in which it can be said that he set out with the deliberate intention of defrauding customers with a dishonest business but rather a case of being ill equipped to conduct the business, and when it went wrong … he continued to take money from clients knowing he was not going to provide the services,” the president said as he read the appeals court's findings. “Instead of calling a halt when he could see that failure was inevitable he went on trading.” They also noted his previous history of dishonesty, which had a similar pattern.

Nevertheless, the higher court found that the Grand Court judge had not justified his high starting point of five years in his sentencing ruling, which he discounted to four as a result of the, albeit late, guilty plea.  “Four years was manifestly too high and the judge does not explain how he reached his starting point,” Justice Chadwick added.

The appeals court also examined the six month term added to the four years for theft for the bounced cheques regarding the adverts, which led to the aggregate four and a half year stretch. While the appeals panel agreed that the judge had every right to view the obtaining services by deception conviction separately from the thefts from customers, they found Quin should still have viewed the sentence in the round and considered what the additional six months would mean to the total.

As a result of the too higher starting point, their rejection that it was a breach of trust case and the need to view the sentence holistically, the appeals court judges reduced the sentence for the four counts of theft to 27 months and the six months for the bad cheques to three months, coming up with a new sentence of just 30 months and a reduction of two years on Thomas’ original term.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    He got me for dollars LOL. Joined us at the bar and drank his guineas and left before us. When we went to pay up apparently we were looking after his tab. Good conversation all the same.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Everytime i see this guy walking on West Bay Road all you can do is laugh because you know somebody is about to be duped out of their money he has conman written right across his face right down to his fake smile saw him once in Triple Crown at the bar plying his wares on a unsuspecting drunk person did not stay long however complained that he saw somebody that had locked him up a few years back for nothing according to him i heard it was with some  fellow Canucks. Who ever it was he left in a real big hurry.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can't beleive he is getting away with it again,so annoying!! He should not be allowed out until he has paid back the $100,000 that he stole. Also all the bar tabs too!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This F#@ker still owes me $2800.00 from 2005.  But nothing can stop him.  For the records, his family (parents and siblings) are decent hard working people.  What a shame to have that thieving monster connected to them. Please deport the bastard.   

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Judicial System has utterly gone "bananas" sixteen counts and he admitted to five. He should have gotten four and a half years for each count he pleaded gulity for. If one can con 1/2 million dollars, and sit in a hotel  for eighteen months with TV, access to phone, 3 square meals of his liking, no mortgage, no gas bill, no electricity bills etc. then this is food for thought. I know other cons must be thinking and planning right now! I wonder if those judges gave a thought of the poor victims and their lost.  This stealing, robing, conning and breakins are way over our head now, and the sad part the public has no where to turn. Even if the police do their part to apprehend these criminalswhen they go to court the game is to let them go with a pat and returned to society again to plunder and create fear in the entire island. Only in the Cayman Islands this sort of injustice can happen. Look at the Pines, another National Disgrace, the alleged person has been allowed to leave the jurisdiction, with a family member to repay the funds. There is a penalty for crime, should that family member also serve time in the hotel as well? Why are there people coming here gaining residency and stay committing hideous crimes and then flee the country?  I think it is high time some Immigration Law be in effect that states these quotes "Quota full" and " Undesirable, no longer a welcome visitor of this country"! Something has to be put in place and fast. We have our home grown criminals and sure as hell don't need those that come here and fast join some government job and run to the Red Cross for points to gain a hold and be called "Caymanian". Where you born are your nationality, and when you come to a foreign country you should try and fit in the culture and bring good idea to make where you live a peaceful place. I personally know many good descent people living in Cayman for donkey years and not even a police ticket for parking, they are model citizens who has contributed in many ways to the economy. I trust this new government will find the time to look in the seriousness of this country and take all necessary procautions to ensure the descent citizen continue be safe and live without fear of crime and criminals.

    • Anonymously says:

      Once any person who is not born here of two born Caymanian parents or a Caymanian born mother with Caymanian born parents if that person commits a crime he/she should be deported back to their country of birth no question asked this is the legislation that our politicians needs to pass into law.  There are just too many criminals walking around in Cayman bringing the country dow.  The PPM administration needs to stand for what is right and get the criminals off the island that don't belong. There are real hard core criminals in Cayman from other jurisdictions that were given status and residency do you really believe many of these people will change their ways pray that they do or dog gonna eat all our suppers. 

  6. carson says:

    How hard is it to get a green card there?  I could easily steal enough in a year or 2 to retire. Just a couple years in the joint, then back out with over a million $$$. Where do I sign up? The Caymans sound like the softest criminal nation in the world. My partner an me, we gotta go there and steal!

  7. Conman Paradise says:

    Well Derek boy you luck out again bro, didn't i read in prevoius post that he was arrested with someforeign con men at some point for being their bag man for some big  scam? Don't they take these things into account or is that counted as a accolade and passport to success,around here.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Derek, you really need to stop this shit, bro'.

  9. Anonymous says:


    What a Joke….imagine how an outsider sees all this.
    I am in the states and the last few months I have read the following headlines.
    Premier charged with stealing.
    Electric company executive charged with stealing
    Young girl charged with stealing from grandmothers account while working at the bank.
    Worked from the Pine accused of stealing.
    Chamber employee charged with stealing
    Local law student charged with stealing 2 million
    Local HVAC contractor charged with stealing.
    My God….of there is no recourse then everyone will try to get away with it.
    • Anonymous says:

      The pirate mentality is alive and well in Cayman.


      It is right up there with the entitlement mentality.


      If ya can't beat 'em, join em seems to be the mantra.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes the entitlement mentality and pirate culture has taken over Cayman yet all this is now being controlled by non native 'caymanians'.  Ain't this a shame natives are outnumbered even in crimes ten to two and the entitlement mentality 99.9 to 1 Social Services will bear out the latter. It  is now time for the natives to have a little more control over summin in they own country of course if you take the jobs from us leave the white collar crimes and begging money from our politicians and social services to us, but no boy the 'Caymanians' done gone and take even that from the natives.  So next time poster before you decide to be condescending to natives consider the facts and get it right.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Note to self…..


    Minimize my risk by stealing big bucks.


    Steal $1 million while wearing a white collar and you get a slap on the wrist.


    Steal $100 while wearing a blue collar and you get sold down the river for a long time.


    Go figure.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Bring in the finger printing system! Stop these bandits once & all!


    • Anonymous says:

      They are willing to finger print the natives but not the work permit holders.  What a joke!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps CNS should post a photograph of the 'Con Man,' so we can all prepare for when he gets out of jail. And what about restitution to the victims?

  13. Michel says:

    This man is a real crook. Yes deport him never to come back. Ex pats can come here and start fresh even if criminals. Caymanians get one shot if they lucky never to be able to get a job again should even their cousin have a bad reputation. . Time to investigate those who come to work on our shores better and hold the one responsible for bringying him here to work. Clean up the prison and send these con man wherever they come from before they corrupt others. God Bless, Michel Lemay

    • Cayman Concern says:

      Sorry Michael this is not an ex-pat local criminal, but this is a born local and his father was actually a prison officer.  I hope Derrick goes back to being a really great chef, but anything with investments and money and he falls off the wagon to chase dollar signs. 

      • Anonymous says:

        Really great chef…..somehow wouldn't trust him to make my food!

  14. Anonymous says:

    He is probably using the proceeds of his crime(s) to pay for his lawyer. Surely that's some type of crime too??…

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am sorry but knowing, Derek for the last 18 years, this is the kind of help he really needs! We have not heard the last of him. Mark my words the next crime is going to be even more sophisticated. He went from shop lifitng to stealing cash from his employers and strings of cheque fraud to major con work. Derek get yourself a computer!

  16. anonymous says:

    Why not evoke his status and deport him? why do we need any more con men here? we have enough of our own.  All our legal system is doing is sending a message that its ok to steal in the Cayman slands.  What about the victims? will the Legal society pay them back?

  17. Anonymous says:

    The criticism on this thread, while justified, is misplaced.  The Courts are applying existing sentencing policies.  The true target should of the criticisms should be our politicians as they have the power to legislate for sentencing which is consistent with what the people want. 

    • Anonymous says:

      "…is consistent with what the people want."


      Uh, this should be re-phrased to "…is consistent with what the rich and well connected people want."

  18. Anonymous says:

    You have got to be kidding me. when are we going to lock these thieves away for time deserved. I cannot believe how many people [mainly caymanian ] are being picked up at the moment for white collar theft.This is an epedemic worst than Drugs or Alcohol and is going to cost a fortune in the long run because these people are not going to stop and there are a lot more doing it at the moment that have not being caught yet. Yes these people are our neighbours, the ones in the flash cars and the I  don't care attitude, It is time we start questioning who and what our neigbours and family are doing and hanging with.I worked and still work hard for my wages and so did you so why stand by and accept paying for these losers…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Mainly Caymanian??? Paper or native?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm. It is not true that those who are being nabbed for white collar theft are mainly Caymanian. Those that steal the really big bucks are expats.

      • Anonymous says:

        I know quite a few Caymanian not paper building contractors that are robbing people blind.  They are just the seem as him but have never been brought up on charges.

  19. Anonymous says:

    This is a major part of what is wrong in the Cayman Islands. The man was found guilty of being a major theif, but the appeals court reduces his sentence to two years. Where is the incentive not to steal? I bet if the amount he stole was public knowledge, a line would form to receive the same sum for the same sentence. POS

  20. A so-called "customer" says:

    Instead of cutting his sentence in half  they should double it. He was never a businessman, his intentions were always to deceive people. So sad when the police work hard to prosecute a criminal and the judicial system gives them a get out of jail free card.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Thank God!

    i thought someone was going to be punished for their actions here. Phew. 

  22. 4 Cayman says:

    This is absurd! The man had a history of being dishonest, rather than coming clean when his business was failing, he started a pyramid scheme. Honest people come clean and clearly he wasn't! 

    I noticed recently the courts have been very lenient on criminals and no consideration to the victims. Just imagine some young couple obtaining a mortgage and this man comes along and take advantage of them. House cannot finish or the have to remortgage and endure the hardship  of increase payments for the next 20 years! It's just not fair what these judges and lawyers are doing – it is just not right!

  23. Sucka Free Cayman says:

    This guy has been coning people for over 20 years bro and a detail report of this guys past dealings would warrant a longer prison sentence but thats how this place is you got to be criminal to make it here plain and simple Next election i will be voting for Derek Thomas because he nah decieving you of what he is now is he???

  24. Anonymous says:

    Amazing…what's the point this is not justice.  He has conned so many people. 

    Well I believe in karma, this loser will get his one day.  He will con the wrong person and not get away with it. 


    • Anonymous says:

      Sometimes we look at these situations with disbelief, but like you said, Karma has a way of rearing its ugly head – he might be better off in jail ! damn thief !

  25. Anonymous says:

    I do not think four and a half years was excessive for a theft of that magnitude though it is likely that others with more blatant cases of theft have probably got away with lesser sentences possibly due to the nationality of the offender. 

  26. Anonymous says:

    I've known this guy for years and he's just no good! He'll get out and just start conning again. Bad decision here! No surprise though the systems that run this country are messed up!

  27. SSM345 says:

    Wowzers, steal 100k and get 2yrs and change in a hotel?

    That sounds like a better deal than going to a 9-5 and saving for the next 5yrs.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Why not deport him? ################## When are we going to start using this section of the law? We already have too many of our own of this type why import others.

    I guess we like having those types around here.???? ############.