A man whose native language is Spanish told the court last week that he was in a women’s rest room because he thought the word women was the plural of man.
Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale rejected this explanation and found Geovanny Martinez, 27, guilty of insulting the modesty of a woman.
Martinez had a camera phone with him at the time. The main Crown witness said she saw the camera positioned toward the back of the stall she was in.
In her verdict, the magistrate said the prosecution witnesses were not just credible but convincing. She agreed with Crown Counsel Richard Barton Jr., who suggested that, even if he lived and worked with Spanish-speaking people, after 12 months in Cayman Martinez would have come across public toilets.
.The magistrate thanked Mr. Barton for clarifying the charge. Insulting the modesty of a woman refers to words, sounds, gestures or the exhibiting of an object, but it also includes intruding on a woman’s privacy.
Defence Attorney Ben Tonner said either Martinez was a pervert who ensconced himself in the ladies bathroom for some nefarious purpose, thereby intruding, or he was a foreigner in premises previously unknown to him and he made a terrible mistake.
The incident leading to the charge occurred in a downtown office building on 10 January.
The woman said she went to use the women’s rest room on the third floor. There were three stalls with dividers between them that did not reach down to the floor.
She went into an end stall. She did not see any feet in the middle stall, which she would have done if someone had been using the toilet in an ordinary way. She was wiping the toilet seat in her stall when she noticed a cap and camera under the divider. She saw a hand point the camera at her.
She called out and stepped back from the stall. The other person came out, apologised and ran. When he apologised they were face to face.
Martinez, who gave evidence with the help of an interpreter, said he thought he was in a men’s room. As soon as he heard the noise of a woman’s shoes, he realised his mistake, grabbed his cap and camera and left.
He was in the building doing installation work on the fourth floor. He said he went downstairs for water.
Mr. Barton showed photographs of the hall way, with the water cooler close to the men’s room and the women’s room further down.
The Crown’s second witness was a man in one of the offices in the building. He said he saw Martinez in the men’s room about 15 minutes before the incident with the woman. This witness was a former police officer and the magistrate noted that he had been trained in observation.
The magistrate concluded that Martinez had entered the women’s bathroom deliberately and not by mistake. She said there could be no other purpose except to intrude on the privacy of women entering there.
The Crown had invited the court to say that Martinez went in there intending to capture photographs. No photographs were found on his camera phone, but it did not matter if that was his purpose or not, the magistrate said.
Deliberately concealing himself in a ladies’ toilet where women would be highly vulnerable and exposed was a sufficient intrusion on a woman’s privacy to be an offence.
In mitigation, Mr. Tonner said Martinez had been employed here in the construction industry since after Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and was of previous good behaviour. As a consequence of his conviction, Martinez will have to return to Honduras sooner than he had intended. He will also have the embarrassment of explaining to family members why.
Mr. Tonner accepted that community service was not an option for sentence.
The magistrate agreed. She said it did not warrant imprisonment either, although the incident was unsavoury and distasteful.
She noticed Martinez had cried in the dock, but she did not know whether he was genuinely sorry for what he had done or sorry for being caught. But there was an expression of remorse.
She fined him $500, to be paid before he leaves the island in January. A local surety was required to guarantee payment.