Six months for assaulting immigration officer

There must be a sensible sentence to deter violence against public officers, Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale declared after hearing about an assault on an Immigration officer.

The court will protect officers from abuse and violence, she said in imposing a prison term of six months on Paul Anthony Magee.

Magee pleaded guilty to wilful obstruction, resisting arrest and assault, following an incident at Owen Roberts Airport on 17 October.

According to facts outlined by Crown Counsel Scott Wilson and Defence Attorney Morris Garcia, Magee arrived around 10pm on a flight from Jamaica.

He was refused entry on the grounds of insufficient funds and was told he would have to leave on the return flight or be detained until his next flight.

Magee, who had a ticket to continue on to London in two days, had 200. An officer in court told the magistrate that Magee had no Cayman connections, no hotel and no knowledge of Cayman.

He did provide a name of someone living here, but only after the incident was over and after his detention.

When he was told he would have to return to Jamaica, Magee began using objectionable language. When he was escorted to the boarding area, he refused to leave. He used other insulting language and struck a female officer on her shoulder.

On doing so, he was arrested for assault and wilful obstruction. He then pushed officers, struggled with them and broke free. He was sprayed with pepper spray to restrain him, but it did not have the desired effect and the struggle continued for a total of about six minutes.

Mr. Garcia spoke of Magee’s frustration. The defendant had a British passport, lived in Britain and was going back after visiting his father in Jamaica. He thought it was unreasonable for authorities to send him back to Jamaica when he believed there were other options available. Magee denied he was given the option of staying in custody for two nights.

Magee thought �200 was not an unreasonable amount of money because he assumed that the economic situation here was not too different from that in the UK. He could get a hotel room in London for �27. When told his funds were insufficient Magee became upset, Mr. Garcia explained.

The whole thing was unfortunate, the magistrate agreed. But the law requires a certain standard of behaviour. Magee did not seek to reason, argue, cajole or persuade. Instead, he responded almost immediately with abuse and violence. He had erred seriously when he thought he could resolve his difficulty that way.

‘Any of us going anywhere in the world are at the mercy of Immigration authorities,’ she pointed out. ‘Immigration officers at the point of entry have the final say. When they speak we are all well advised to listen.’

‘Keep a civil tongue in your mouth and your hands to yourself,’ she recommended.

Information on file indicated that Magee, 35, has a home address in Islington, England.

He was brought to court shortly after his arrest, but inquiries about his passport meant that his matter was adjourned and he remained in custody.

A doctor’s certificate showed that the assaulted officer suffered two bruises, a scrape and back pain. The magistrate said the fact that Magee did not manage to inflict more harm was of no moment.