Crown faces compensation claim for jail time

| 27/05/2014

(CNS): A man who served seven and a half months in jail on a drug conviction which was overturned on appeal is making a compensation claim against the government for his time in jail. In October 2011 Eduardo Swaby was convicted in Summary Court of possession and intent to supply cocaine by Chief Magistrate Ramsey-Hale and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The conviction, however, depended on alleged exhibits which were never placed into evidence by the prosecutor on the case. Swaby was granted bail after serving more than seven months when local attorney Peter Polack picked up the case and filed an appeal. Shortly afterwards, Swaby’s appeal was successful and his conviction quashed.

The Grand Court heard the appeal, in which it was revealed that the alleged portion of cocaine on which Swaby was convicted of possessing was never proven to be an illicit drug. The substance was neither analyzed by the RCIPS nor submitted to the court by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP). On 29 June 2012 the conviction was quashed on the basis that the chief magistrate relied on non-existent evidence. Cash seized by the RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit as part of the proceeds of his alleged crime was returned to Swaby in August.

Now his lawyer is arguing that under the constitution Swaby is entitled to compensation for his wrongful conviction and time spent in jail and has approach the Attorney General’s Chambers about that claim.

Polack is understood to be the first attorney to make such a claim on behalf of his client but he believes there are other people out there with a legitimate claim and said he was certain of at least one that could also be brought.

Section 7(8) of the Cayman Islands Constitution states that when a person has faced a miscarriage of justice or a conviction has been quashed, the victim can be compensated out of public funds for any punishment that they suffered as a result of that conviction.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The incarceration of an innocent, decent law-abiding citizen is worth far more than his monthly paycheck..

    Wait and see!



  2. Anonymous says:

    I heard on the news today that this amount could be in the millions.Why? Certainly this individual was not earning even one million per year,so why would he be entitled to millions for only seven and a half months.If this person was unemployed at the time of his conviction then his salary would be nothing and that is what his award should be.

  3. Knot S Smart says:

    I really like Peter… Good guy, good lawyer, fights for what he believes in, and for his clients…

    Although I keep remembering the time that he painted those old pallets red and called it a work of art…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Why should the government compensate him forhis lawyers not picking this up at trial?

    • Castor says:

      Maybe a better question is why didn't the police and the Crown do their job? 

  5. marius voiculescu says:

    Mr. Polack's public service is commendable and invaluable.  Ironically, and shamefully at the same time, in order to further the cause of justice in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Polack has to battle both the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, the very ones charged with upholding justice.  The Crown's unacceptable practices have to be heldaccountable.  Good luck Mr. Polack!

    Marius Voiculescu

  6. Anonymous says:

    It appears as if certain lawyers see the Bill of rights as their personal Golden Ticket. It will likely be a pittance that Swaby collects ,even if he is awarded a good sum. Why? because most of these cases are taken on a commission basis and guess who gets the first share.That is right the lawyer.In other words these  lawyers  continue to sue Government on anything and everything in the bill of rights until they obtain a fortune of our (taxpayers )money . Maybe Government should suspend the Bill of Rights until it can be rewritten in such a way as to prevent these practices.Right now it seems like the Bill of Rights is only of benefit to criminals and their  A person who commits murder apparently is protected from serving a life sentence ,and should be given a chance at freedom after a certain amount years.Unfortunately the persons who have had a loved one killed ,do not get them returned safe and sound after x years .Maybe murderers should be sentenced to a term equal to the length of time that their victim remains dead,If they are unable to bring back the dead then they should be unable to get their freedom.Or perhaps the length of their term should be something like a minimum of 99 years  .

    • marius voiculescu says:

      Personal Golden Ticket is hardly what this case is all about.  It is about the former Head Magistrate who convicted a man to prison on evidence which did not exist – I would suggest you re-read the article. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    And what about the Magistrate? This could happen to any of us.

    • Anonymous says:

      SHe is now working in Turks and Caicos!


    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      The magistrate is not responsible for checking the evidence is correct. The crown should have done that before prosecuting him and his defence should have asked for independent proof.  

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is going to be a wake up call to the Govt XXXXX I know many whom have been beaten up by the Govt over the last few years. Govt thinks they can do whatever they want and no harm will come to them. They think they are above the law and can use their power to wrongfully abuse the law. Its too bad that those that abuse there power are not personally liable.

     That said  at the end of the the day GOVT will pay and its about time  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Well done RCIPS and the ODPP! It definitely looks like the Keystone Kops were in charge of this one.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There are several VERY strange things about this case

  11. Gran Heffe says:

    Good shot Peter! Seems like you are the only person with spine in the legal profession! with the track record of the DPP's office this comes as no surprise to me, i'm sure the general public agrees with me. Its seems as if not for you this guy could have served 12yrs for flour. Absolutely ridiculous.

    • Anonymous says:

      Absolutely…there can be no doubt that it was just flour!

      Seriously… how incomptetent can the law enforement agencies be?!

  12. Anonymous says:

    About time Mr. Polack. The level of incompetence at the DPP’s office is unacceptable. Greater supervision of crown counsel’s work is required and perhaps greater care is needed in the recruitment of such staff. I hope your claim is successful.