Judge deports gun suspect after dismissing case

| 21/05/2014

(CNS): An illegal immigrant from Jamaica who appeared to have been in Cayman to sell drugs was deported by a Grand Court judge Monday after he dismissed gun charges against him. Efforts by the crown to prosecute Joseph St Aubryn Hill for possession of an unlicensed firearm and wounding as part of a joint enterprise with a suspect who remains at large and known only as 'JR' failed when the judge said there was no evidence to support the case. Hill admitted being present at Powell Smith Drive, West Bay in August last year when Charles Ebanks was shot and wounded by someone call JR but Hill said, he was there under duress and had no idea who the shooter was or who he was shooting.

The case against Hill in which no witnesses at all appeared before the court, including the man who was shot, depended entirely on the account of Hill who had volunteered the information to police. He told them that he had been ordered to go with JR by a man called ‘Mr Biggs’ with whom he was staying when he arrived in Cayman two days before and said his life was threatened. Hill said he was told if he kept his mouth shut he would live.

When the men arrived at an address which turned out to be Powell Smith Drive hill told police that JR produced a gun, threatened him and told him to go knock on a door. As he did JR started shooting and warned Hill to get out of the way otherwise he would get shot too.
The defendant who said he had been drinking earlier that night was taken from the scene by JR and then dropped off somewhere he didn’t know with the warning that if he talked he would die here. Hill said that JR was a young, slim-brown skinned Caymanian who had made it clear his life was under threat and whatever he had done at Ebanks’ house was under duress.

With no other witnesses and nothing to undermine Hill’s position the judge who heard the case without a jury, Justice Charles Quin said the crown had failed to show that Hill was part of the joint enterprise or any agreement that the men were acting together. There was no evidence he said that the defendant knew or had ever even met JR before the incident or had any idea until he was threatened with it that JR had a gun.

“There is an absence of evidence to show that there was common intention and agreement over the gun and the use of the gun,” he said. Pointing to what evidence there was which came only from Hill JR always had care and control of the firearm and Hill knew nothing of it until JR produced it and threatened him with it. The judge said there was no evidence before the court that Hill knew who JR planned to shoot and the crown had not presented any evidence to contradict Hill’s account.

The judge said the evidence against Hill was so “intrinsically weak and so discredited it could not conceivably support a guilty verdict” as he discharged the defendant.

However, the judge said that there was no record of Hill ever landing legally in Cayman. In light of his guilty plea before the summary court for drug charges as well as his own admission of a staying in houses with people he knew only by aliases and driving around a strange country in a drunken stupor the judge said his presence in Cayman was extremely suspicious. As a result the court recommended his immediate deportation.

The judge, however, did note that at least Hill unlike many others had cooperated with the police over the shooting at Powell Smith Drive. He said the case had been frustrated by the lack of willing witnesses to give evidence, which he described as deeply regrettable. Despite seven witnesses in the case, including Ebanks who was shot, only two gave statements leaving five people who knew about the events of the night in question and the identity of the shooter but who had refused to assist the police.  

The judge said the court had some sympathy with witnesses who are intimidated but people had to find the courage to come forward and help the police identify the shooter.
“The entire community must support the police to rid this country of the menace and danger of illegal firearms,” the judge added.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    He told them that he had been ordered to go with JR by a man called ‘Mr Biggs’ with whom he was staying when he arrived in Cayman two days before and said his life was threatened.

    Lets read this again!

    "He told them" that he had been ordered to go with JR "by a man called Mr Biggs" [with whom he was staying] when he arrived in Cayman two days before and said his life was threatened. Did anyone try to find Mr. Biggs to question him? Interesting!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Does anyone know where Mr Hill came from?  Or is it possible to Read between the lines?  Are we really that dumb?  Who is asleep at the wheel?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good use of words.  A story about a drug dealer, and the use of the words "joint enterprise".  Had to laugh.

  3. Anonymous says:

    5 other people are known to have details about the shooting and refused to testify.  Can those 5 not be held in contempt of court?  Surely there is an apparatus to shield identities and provide confidential and anonymous evidence?  XXX

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank heaven. It would be horrific if the number of expats in Northward were allowed to exceed the number of Caymanians.

    • anonymous says:

      Rest easy, I don't think that will happen. There is enough locally produced crime already.

  5. Gran Heffe says:

    Another WASTE of public monies by the DPP's office – keep up the stellar performance.

  6. Anonymous says:

    So is someone actually going to put him on a plane to make sure he leaves? Actually, he should be sent back the way he came into this country………and he probably will be back in WB in no time anyway……….


  7. Anonymous says:

    He will be back next week.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The Crown Failed, the Crown FAILED!!! This is becoming the national anthem for this Gov. Dept. Why is it that they cannot do a better job?

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you expect the Crown to manufacture evidence?  They can only present what evidence they have and when people in the community who have witnessed an incident refuses to provide evidence of what they say, or don't have the balls to stand up, or are do ddeply criminal that their credibility is always questioned, then what do you expect.  However, if the Crown did nothing, then that would have been another thing for some of you to complain about.  I think they did the right thing in that they took what they had to the court for the court to decide and the court did the right thing, they deported the scoundrel who had no right tobe here since there was insufficient evidence available to convict him.  I will close by saying that I am not a lawyer and have never worked in the Prosecution Dept.  However, it is clear as day that they did their best in the circumstances.

      • Anonymous says:

        The 'best in the circumstances' would have been to read papers, realise (as the judge did) that there was no evidence to support the charge and not bring the prosecution.

      • Diogenes says:

        They are not meant to bring a case unless the DPP find there is a reasonable chance of success.  How you can think that when you are solely relying on the defendant's own evidence, which doe not even support the charges you have brought?  That is either deliberately breaching the obligation or is simple incompetence.  The judge's words are scathing.  

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry if I have this wrong but does the CPP nothave the authority to decline to prosecute a case on the basis of no reasonable prospect of conviction. If anybody disagrees with that they can then take out a private prosecution. If that is the case then recognising the weaknessof the evidence is a responsibiltiy of the DPP so yes they have failed.

        Am I missing something?

    • truth says:

      Because the fish is rotting from the head.

    • Anonymous says:

      Please explain how they have failed in this instance? They are not magicians and cannot conjure evidence from thin air. All of the stories I have read recently about the DPP office refer to convictions for serious offences? Is that failing on the part of the DPP office. Recent stats show that Cayman has a very high prison population per capita. Is that failing on the part of the DPP office? There seems to be a misunderstanding here about what the DPP office is responsible for. They present the evidence. The police obtain the evidence. If there is no evidence to be obtained (or witnesses refuse to provide) how do you expect a successful prosecution. In this instance they presented the evidence they had and quite rightly the judge decided it wasn't enough to convict. Maybe someone at the DPP office should have discontinued the case before it got to court, but I hardly think this should define the department as a 'failure' – if every prosecution bought by the DPP office was successful then I would seriously question the Cayman judicial system as it doesn't happen in any other civilised country.

      • The Bold Faced Lawyer says:

        To: Please Explain:

        It's very simple dear!  This has become the "modus operandi" with the DPP.

        And to think they gave her a QC. Wow!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Can you really expect any better?

  9. Anonymous says:

    What idiot decided to waste public money prosecuting this?