Special Olympian faces trial for burglary

| 02/10/2013

(CNS): A young man who suffers from special needs and learning disabilities who is a member of the Cayman Islands Special Olympics team is facing trial in Grand Court this week accused of burglary. However, the 22 year old man said that he was forced to break in to the home at Coconut Cove in West Bay over two and a half years ago by another man. Solomon Webster told the court Monday that he was on the iron shore collecting whelks when a man he knows as Jonothan Welcome approached him and gestured to a gun on his waist and demanded that the defendant go into a nearby house.

Welcome is currently serving time in HMP Northward following his part in the attempted robbery of Blackbeard's liquor store in Grand Harbour in May 2011. Giving evidence in his own defence the young West Bay man said he was forced and threatened by Welcome and became afraid when he saw the gun. Webster told seven member jury that Welcome repeatedly said "let's go break in this house" while he was lifting his shirt to show the firearm on his waist.

The jury heard that a fire extinguisher and a tape recorder were stolen from the vacation home on 29 March, 2011 and that the vulnerable defendant had gained entry through a window which was broken by Welcome. However, DNA swabs were taken at the crime scene and tested with Webster's fingerprints found to be a match to those found on the doorknobs of the rooms in the house.

The court heard Monday that Webster has difficulties making cognitive decisions and recollecting certain events due to his mental health, making it difficult for him to understand the consequences of certain actions.

A local psychiatrist attended court and gave evidence that after assessing the defendant, he has probably had mental disabilities his whole life seeing as he attended the Lighthouse School for special needs. The doctor told the jury that those who struggle financially tend to be more suggestible to crimes of this nature and that their memory is sometimes compromised because of their disorder.

Webster is a Special Olympics record holder for Shot-Put and Bocce and has been employed at a car wash company through the help of the Sunrise Training and Learning Centre. The presiding judge Justice Charles Quin commented that he remembered seeing a picture of the defendant in the media for his performance at the Special Olympics.

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