Bread roll swindle rolls on

| 30/07/2013

(CNS): The conviction against a baker for defrauding Foster's Supermarket in a $300,000 bread roll swindle has been quashed by the appeal court and a re-trial ordered as a result of two issues relating to the trial last year before Justice Charles Quin. Dave Bryan was convicted in April 2012 of obtaining property be deception for a con he allegedly carried out against the local supermarket over a two year period by doctoring invoices relating to the delivery of rolls, buns and bread. His five year sentence was also set aside when the appeal court panel found that the trial judge should have been told that the crown's key witness had cut a deal to avoid prosecution and that evidence which was admitted should not have been.

As a result of the circumstances of the case, the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal did not acquit Bryan (48), who was the business partner of MLA Bernie Bush at the West Bay-based Cayman Bakery, but quashed the guilty verdict and sent it back to the Grand Court to be heard again, giving the baker another chance to fight the allegations of fraud.
The appeal court judges said that the "judge's verdict must be regarded as unsafe" when they pointed to the failure of some factors to be considered, asthe judge was unaware of the inducement the main witness had to give evidence and the admission of some police evidence that had been acquired under pressure and in circumstances that broke the judges' rules.  
"It is Impossible that this verdict can be regarded as safe," the appeal court president, Sir John Chadwick, stated as he dismissed the idea advanced by crown counsel Michael Snape that the rest of the evidence was overwhelming and therefore the conviction should stick. The appeal court judge said Bryan "did not receive a fair trial," and allowed the appeal on first count on which Bryan was convicted.
During the hearing and their open deliberations, the appeal judges expressed concern that the crown had not revealed its deal with the main witness, Morgan Seymour, that had allowed him to avoid prosecution and allowed Justice Quin to think the witness was there purely on a voluntary basis. They also indicated that the defendant's defence attorney should have pressed the witness about the issue, as the lawyer knew a deal had been brokered. 
Crown counsel Michael Snape argued that he did not believe it was the prosecution's place to reveal the circumstances as to why the witness came to be on the stand and  that he had expected defense counsel Marseta Facey Clarke to tackle that in cross examination, which she did not.
Although Facey-Clark had asked the witness if anyone had asked him to give evidence, he evaded the question and implied he was there of his own volition, and as the defence lawyer did not press the matter, the judge never learned that Seymour had been a suspect in the case who had been promised protection from prosecution if he gave evidence against Bryan.
Having only dealt with the first count, the second count on which Bryan was convicted, that he forged his business partner's signature for a loan, remains. Bryan was sentenced to just twelve months for that crime, a period he has already served in jail. However, Snape objected to the release of Bryan, who is a Jamaican national, as he said that he had been on remand prior to the trial and he would request the same again.
As a result, the appeal court ordered that Marseta Facey-Clarke, Bryan's attorney, make an application for her client's release with the Grand Court.
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