Bank robbery case collapses

| 27/11/2013

(CNS): A case brought by the crown against three men charged with conspiring to rob the George Town branch of Scotiabank collapsed after the judge questioned the credibility of the key witness. The only evidence presented against James McLean, Christopher Myles and Kevin Bowen came from David Parchment, the man charged with being a co-conspirator after his car was caught on camera as the bank robbers’ getaway vehicle. The case, which was plagued with procedural issues before it started, was weak from the very beginning and before the key witness was cross-examined Justice Alex Henderson, who was presiding over the trial alone, raised his concerns about the main witness.

Prior to the opening of the trial lawyers spent much of last week engaged in legal arguments before the judge regarding the failure of the prosecution and ultimately the police to disclose key evidence. Lucy Organ, from Samson McGrath, representing Christopher Myles, also argued for poorly conducted identification evidence to be excluded. Justice Henderson threw out that evidence because of what he described as the “unacceptable” way the ID was conducted, not least because the suspects were the only individuals pictured in a photo ID selection in prison uniform, completely prejudicing the selection.

However, arguments by all of the defence attorneys, led by Guy Dillaway-Parry and supported by Organ and Fiona Robertson, that the crown’s failure to disclose material to the defence was so significant the case should be stayed, failed.

Nevertheless, after hearing Parchment’s evidence-in-chief the judge made it clear that he would not be convicting anyone on such evidence without corroboration. On listening to the broad facts of the crown’s case at an early stage, the judge had already questioned Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryl Richards, QC, how the crown could not be sure that Parchment was in fact the getaway driver in the heist. Querying his character, previous convictions and other issues the judge advised Richards, who was leading the case, that he had serious concerns that there was nothing to support what the lead witness claimed had happened.

With the crown having nothing else to offer, the judge returned not guilty verdicts against the three men and discharged them from the court. Parchment, however, who has pleaded guilty to accessory to robbery, will return to court for sentencing next month.

The case hung entirely on Parchment’s claim that the three accused men had borrowed his car to commit the robbery and had then paid him $1,600 to do so, but there was no supporting evidence for this. He was arrested right after the hold-up, in which three masked armed men entered the bank, threatened staff and customers before making off with over $23,000 in Parchment’s car, driven by an unknown person. Parchment claimed at the time of his arrest that his car had been stolen and he knew nothing about the robbery. A few months later, questioned by the police again, he changed his mind.

After police turned off interview tapes, Parchment allegedly told officers about the conspiracy and then later, when the tapes were turned back on, he told an entirely new story regarding the meeting, stating that the men had asked to borrow the car. The next thing he knew, Parchment claimed, was when he saw his vehicle outside the bank on the local media after a picture taken by a tourist was circulated just minutes after the heist (pictured above).

Parchment said that later on the three suspectscame and gave him $1,600, even though they had promised $4,000, and told him the police had the car.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    not surprised at all. too use to reading about the failures of highly paid officials especially the police and QC

  2. Anonymous says:

    The police must be guided by the DPP in these matters. If you have an incompetent DPP who seems to believe that she should bring every case to the court no matter what the evidence then the failure rate will continue to rise. The courts here made the DPP and her deputy QCs and there is no evidence that either of them have excelled as prosecutors. The office needs sound attorneys who do not have the aim of bringing the most losing cases to court.

    • Anonymous says:

      I hear what you say but equally, the prosecution will only ever be as good as their evidence and the police are responsible for evidence collecting.   We seem to be paying dearly for incompetence, all the way around.  But, what do you expect if you only recruit from a country plagued by and de-sensitized to crime?  Do you really expect them to take Cayman's relatively few crimes seriously?  

  3. anonymous says:

    18 months after the crime occurred and these problems are just being realised?

    What were the legal department doing to prevent this from happening?

  4. Anonymous says:

    If  th prosection service only relies on snitches with criminal record, they will continue to get few convictions

  5. michel says:

    A big waste of money again. But are very good to harass the small people and can be very .Specially when a witness do not want to testify for fear for their lives. Witness protection program is a big joke with many ghost in their closets and if you don't play their game they will dig up anything to make certain they get their vindictive ways and expose . BUT I promess to do what I can Lord's'''Willing and Whatever I can to expose certain policemen who come in sheep clothing and as soon as they can turn to wolves by placing families in danger just because it aint going their way. XXXX Better do what is right real soon because i'm very tired of your cover ups and games and I don't want to play anymore and what your sneaky detectives are doing at this moment is is not right, I always supported the RCIPS and I even have good friends in the force that are good men with integrity and this does not apply to most in the RCIPS. I am nearing my limits on this and I have a very good story to tell , All the way to the UK if I have to. And I sign, Michel Lemay.

    • Anonymously says:

      Convicted of a gun crime, government need to print picture ID and birth certificates like they do in the USA mug shots.  If they are locals we will know who to be careful of and their associates and if they are expats we will be better able to identify them if they somehow manage to get back on island undecte using a false name since wedon't want fingerprinting at the airport.

  6. Lock, Stock says:

    With all due respect to those working at the DPP, please be honest with yourselves and the country! It is very clear to all and sundry that you do not have the competence to perform your job – a very important job. Please all resign immediatley (and perhaps if the guilt really gets to you donate back your salary for the last 6 months). We simply cannot afford this type of gross incompetence to go on any longer, it just provides easy fodder for those that would put Cayman down. 

    • Anonymous says:

      The DDP are all warming their seats displaying incompetence all the way to the bank.  Replace the very last one and wipe the shame from our faces. 

  7. A NON I MUS says:

    There was a time when the title of QC meant being the best in the profession.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Not surprised at all.The DPP's office needs a COMPLETE over haul!!

  9. Anonymous says:

    If we have just paid for all these video cameras and can't get a conviction when photographic evidence is presented was this all a big waste of money?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like the Keystone Kops at work again. It's just a shame the officers responsible for this fiasco can't be made to pay for it.

  11. Anonymous says:

    When are we going to face the reality that the Public Prosecution team is incapable of, 1) presenting evidence that is sufficient to convict 2) making a sound judgement call about the evidence that the RCIP provides them and 3) is out of their leaque. It is my opinion that these individuals should all be replaced asap. I have said it before, I will say it again, if those brought before the courts are innocent, then the quilty still walks amongst us and will likely never be caught. 

    • anonymous says:

      Exactly and with the new planned court building this is an ideal time to overhaul, computerize and staff the courts with able and value for money personnel.  

      Recruit ex defence lawyers from the UK who are equally adept at prosecution and get rid of any dead wood out of the DPP office. At least this will bring the DPP office up to some sort of challenge or get some sort of efficiency in there.

      With the newly created accord between Cayman and the UK for law enforcement, maybe these sort of investigations are better investigated by teams from the UK.