‘Permits of convenience’ aired

Two separate cases involving ‘work permits of convenience’ were dealt with by Magistrate Nova Hall last week. The defendants, both employees and persons named as employer, were fined after pleading guilty.

In the first case, Christine Lizeth Trapp, 22, pleaded guilty to making false statements. One was on a completed work permit form in which she stated she would be employed full time by Nicholas Errol Elliott. The other was a letter created and signed for Elliott without lawful authority.

Elliott, 25, pleaded guilty to making a false representation – that Trapp would be employed by him for six months. He also admitted unlawfully receiving $75 from Trapp as compensation for her work permit fee in December 2004 and again in July 2005.

Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban told the court that the offences came to light last August, when Immigration enforcement officers received information that Trapp had a work permit of convenience.

She was interviewed under caution and said she had a temporary permit. Trapp said she was asked by Elliott to clean house and take care of his young daughter. She said she had stopped working for him but did not cancel the permit because she was waiting for someone else to get a permit for her.

Elliott was also contacted by officers. He said Trapp worked for him two days per week, five hours per day, cleaning but not taking care of his daughter. He further stated that she had approached him about taking out a permit; he did not need her, but did it as a favour until she got a job.

He further stated that she paid for the permit and he did not type or sign any letter on her behalf.

Defence Attorney Marlene Smith spoke on behalf of Trapp and described the offences as an attempt to remain on the island and continue working.

Ms Smith asked the court to look at the gravity of the offences compared with others that come before the court and deal with them as leniently as possible. Trapp, from Belize, realised she it was quite likely she would have to leave Cayman for some time and not return: that was part of the punishment, the attorney said.

The fact that the employer was in court as well showed that the situation was not entirely of Trapp’s making, Ms Smith suggested.

Elliott was not represented. In his favour it was pointed out that he had pleaded guilty at first opportunity, was sorry, and it this was his first time before the courts.

The magistrate agreed that these were not the gravest offences, but they were breaches of the Immigration law and could not be overlooked.

She said both defendants were relatively young and she assumed they were somewhat lacking in judgment.

Usually, she holds employers to a higher standard, the magistrate said. But in this case she treated both defendants the same. Each offence attracted a fine of $150, making the total for Trapp $300 and for Elliott $450.

The second case was similar but with the added ingredient of a third person who admitted allowing or causing a false statement to be made.

Erick N. McBean, 28, pleaded guilty to making the false statements – that he needed Karen Andrea Williams to work for him as a child minder. Williams, 31, at the time was alleged to be the girlfriend of Erick’s uncle, Theophilus McBean, 48.

Attorney John Furniss explained that Erick had been asked by his uncle to take out first a temporary permit, then another, and then a one-year permit followed by a renewal. The renewal was submitted but not granted. The permits were put in during January 2004, April and June 2004 and then June 2005 – a total of four offences.

The situation arose because when Williams first came here she was given two weeks at a time. The uncle accepted responsibility for asking his nephew to take out the permits and pleaded guilty to allowing or causing the false statements to be made.

Williams initially told officers she was looking after Erick’s child, but later admitted this was not true. Now she will have to leave the country, Mr. Furniss noted.

The magistrate said that, again, these were not the most serious breaches of the Immigration Law, but convictions were appropriate.

She held the uncle more accountable and said he should have exercised better judgment than to get his nephew involved.

She therefore fined Williams and Erick McBean $150 for each offence, a total of $600 per defendant. Theophilus McBean was fine $250 for each offence, a total of $1,000.

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