Theft, deception are alleged
A Cayman Islands police officer who was arrested and suspended last month now faces charges of dishonestly obtaining a money transfer and obtaining property by deception.
Police Constable Richard Martin Hanna, 29 appeared before magistrates Wednesday morning. Police said he could face 12 alternate counts of theft, depending on the outcome of the court case.
During the court appearance, Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn said Mr. Hanna’s matter involved more than $7,500 that was allegedly taken from donations to a school. Ms Gunn said because the offence involved a breach of trust, it was likely to result in prison time if Mr. Hanna was convicted.
Mr. Hanna’s attorney, Ailsa Williamson, said her client denied the charges and said he was devastated to find himself before the court.
The Caymanian Compass previously reported (25 June) that Mr. Hanna, a Canadian national, was prevented from leaving the Cayman Islands the weekend of 16-17 June and was subsequently arrested. Charges against him were not laid until this week.
Hanna was suspended from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service 19 June. He joined the service in 2005.
In court it was revealed that Mr. Hanna’s contract with RCIPS was due to expire at the end of this month. Ms Williamson said her client was planning to start a job in Canada in August, and asked Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale to allow Mr. Hanna to travel there with the understanding that he would return to Cayman when required to do so by the court.
‘He wants to clear his name,’ Ms Williamson said.
Magistrate Ramsay-Hale denied that request. However, she invited Ms Williamson to take the request to a different court.
Ms Williamson said she would try to have the travel issue before the Grand Court by the end of this week. Ms Williamson said that it was extremely unlikely Mr. Hanna would be able to find a job in Cayman if he was forced to stay in the country.
The RCIPS has been investigating Mr. Hanna since last year. Police have refused to publicly discuss the case in recent months despite numerous press enquiries and questions about it from members of the public at community meetings.
A June article in a Canadian newspaper said the police investigation in Cayman involved allegations that Mr. Hanna was running a private business on government time. The report also said that officials were looking into whether Mr. Hanna took rebate money available to foreign tourists for a trip he led to Toronto.
News of the criminal charges against the suspended police officer came the same day Mr. Hanna’s attorney, Ms Williamson, was due to appear in court to request a judge’s permission to issue a writ of Habeas Corpus.
In common law, a writ of Habeas Corpus is a legal action used to seek relief from alleged unlawful detention. Now that charges have been filed in Mr. Hanna’s case the potential issuance of the writ is likely moot.
When contacted about the ongoing criminal investigation in June, Mr. Hanna declined to comment. In a previous interview, he told the Compass that he was intending to retire from the RCIPS and leave the island at the end of this month.
The arrest and charges in Cayman are not Mr. Hanna’s first brush with trouble.
According to numerous Canadian news accounts, he resigned under a cloud from the Toronto police force before coming to Cayman. The Toronto Star reported previously that the Toronto Police Internal Affairs Division was looking into whether Mr. Hanna was directing damaged cars from accident scenes to specific body shops in return for payment.
Mr. Hanna was never charged in connection with any criminal case in Toronto. The Star quoted unnamed sources that said Mr. Hanna eventually agreed to resign from the Toronto police force. The newspaper said he later received a letter from the Toronto police attesting to a clean record.
A reporter for the Toronto publication said Caymanian authorities likely would have difficulty obtaining details of the investigation in Canada due to that country’s privacy laws.