Cop claimed he was set up

| 13/09/2014

(CNS): A police officer believed to have taken his own life in January of this year told his wife that he was innocent of the allegations made against him and was being set up by enemies in the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) and was scared he would be jailed as an innocent man. In his last conversation with his wife he revealed a catalogue of issues regarding his arrest, as well as entrenched discrimination in the police service. In emotional testimony given by Raphael Williams’ wife, Natalie Williams, during the inquest, the coroner heard that she strongly believed her husband had been driven to his death by the treatment he had received at the hands of the RCIPS.

The coroner's remit is relatively narrow. The aim of an inquest is to determine whether Williams’ death was accidental, a natural cause or a suicide but if there is not sufficient evidence to support any a jury can return an open verdict. But the coroner’s court is not designed to apportion blame or determine the reasons, just how the death occurred. Nevertheless, Natalie Williams was exceptionally keen that the coroner heard the details of her husband’s last words.

Williams’ body was found hanging from a tree in the district of East End two days after he had been released on bail by the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU), which was investigating allegations that the officer solicited sexual favours in exchange for not issuing a traffic ticket.

However, Williams had told his wife that the complainant was a friend of another police officer who disliked PC Williams following a badge number mix up when the men joined the service. He also felt the false allegations were being made because some people wanted rid of him because he had issued traffic tickets to people who were friendly with the commissioner and he had marked his own card.

He told her that there were many problems in the RCIPS and morale had been bad ever since operation Tempura. He spoke of entrenched discrimination between the Caribbean officers, including Caymanians, and the UK cops. He said they were put under much more pressure and stress and whenever a Caribbean officer made a mistake, the management fully prosecuted those officers but the UK cops’ mistakes were covered up.

Speaking about his own arrest, he was concerned because it was officers from the infamous Tempura operation who had arrested him. He related a story to his wife of significant mistreatment by those officers after his arrest.

Williams told his wife that, despite evidence given earlier by the officers concerned, that they had made him go through the front door at the police station and not the back as he had requested. He was taken to a cell by a very close friend and colleague and was placed overnight in a condemned cell — one that he had previously told his wife it had pained his heart to take prisoners to himself when he was at work at George Town police station. He said the cell was not fit for humans but when he had pointed this out to his senior officers in the past, they had told him he was not there to feel sorry for prisoners but to do his job.

Although the cell had been condemned by the commissioner and in a recent UK prison inspection, the serving police officer was forced to spend the night there before he was interviewed. Following his interview, which was some 24 hours after he had been arrested, Williams revealed that his lawyer, Charles Clifford, “had to raise hell” to get him bail. But when he finally got it, Richard Oliver, head of the ACU, told Williams that when he returned on the following Tuesday to answer his bail he would be “booked into Northward”.

Williams revealed to his wife that he was ashamed and disgraced but above all he was scared, not because he had done anything wrong, but because they were setting him up and he believed that unless he could get a very good lawyer, despite being innocent, he would go to jail.

Natalie Williams told the coroner that her husband wanted Peter Polack to represent him as he had a reputation of being fearless and thorough. However, she said, when he was in custody the police had told her husband that he could not afford to have Polack represent him. William’s wife said he told her it was “a sin to be poor”.

She continued to relate the emotional conversation the couple had in the early hours of the morning on the day he disappeared and the day before his body was found. Williams did not leave a suicide note but his wife said she believed the circumstances surrounding his arrest, his fear over what was happening, as well as the threat by the police that he would go to Northward the following week had driven him to take his own life. She said her husband’s biggest fear was that he would go to prison.

His wife also revealed, however, that she had never been able to satisfy herself that her husband had taken his own life as she was never allowed to see either his body or the pictures of the scene to know for sure it was suicide.

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