Charges filed in ‘Pappa Sleepy’ death

The driver of a van suspected of running over a local musician who was walking along Bodden Town Road in January 2007 has been charged with causing death by reckless driving.

Glen ‘Pappa Sleepy’ Seymour died at a Jamaican hospital about two months after he was injured in the accident.

Henry York Carter, 28, of Bodden Town, is scheduled to appear in court 23 January.

Mr. Seymour’s family is wondering why this case has taken so long, more than a year after the 4 January, 2007, accident, to come before the court.

‘When somebody is very dear family, if you have to wait a year or more than a year to prosecute someone, it is like drumming up all of those feelings again,’ said Sara Aiken, one of Mr. Seymour’s sisters.

Police officials contacted by the Caymanian Compass said there were a few issues in this investigation that were beyond the department’s control, which significantly delayed the filing of charges.

‘There were a number of unique contributing factors as to why this case took longer than the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service would have wished it to,’ read a statement released by the department on Wednesday. ‘The RCIPS endeavours to keep victims and families updated and informed as investigations progress and apologises if this has seemed unsatisfactory in this instance.’

RCIPS officers made a quick arrest following what was initially reported as a hit-and-run accident along Bodden Town Road near the police station just after 9pm last January.

After Mr. Seymour died on 1 March, the same person was rearrested and another sister of Mr. Seymour’s, Karen Baptiste, went to Jamaica with an RCIPS officer.

Mrs. Baptiste said the officer, PC Linda Staples, took samples from Mr. Seymour’s body and sent them off to a US lab for processing.

After the two parted ways upon returning to Cayman, family members said they made repeated attempts to contact members of the RCIPS about the investigation. They said they received confused reports about charges possibly being filed or case files being sent to the Solicitor General’s office.

In July, Mrs. Aiken said she was told by a police records secretary that she wouldn’t get anything accomplished by continuing to appear in the office and asking about the case.

Mrs. Aiken quoted the secretary as saying: ‘It doesn’t make any sense to come here and complain. It can take up to a year or two to get back a police report.’

After that, family members said they backed off, until September when Mrs. Baptiste said she was told by an acquaintance that the officer investigating the accident, PC Staples, had died.

The family continued to contact police and the solicitor’s office with questions about the case, and said they became very impatient as the year anniversary of the accident came and went with no resolution.

Late Friday, 11 January, Mr. Carter was charged in connection with the accident.

‘I know cases take long — but it’s quite difficult,’ Mrs. Baptiste said. ‘Our mother doesn’t have any closure on it. We would, of course, like to understand what happened that night.’

Police said the death of PC Staples resulted in a new officer taking over the investigation and some parts of the case evidence being re-examined.

‘In addition, some overseas investigations were necessary which inevitably means things can take time,’ read the RCIPS statement.

Mr. Seymour’s death is not the only recent accident case where there have been complaints from family and friends about the length of time it takes Cayman Islands authorities to bring a criminal matter to court.

The Compass has received several e-mails expressing similar concerns from those who were close to 39-year-old Shaney Tania Bar-On, known in Cayman as Shaney Kol. Mrs. Kol died in November when her vehicle was struck head on by a van on the Esterley Tibbetts Highway. The van’s driver has been arrested, but not charged.

None of those who contacted this newspaper about Mrs. Kol’s death wished to speak on the record.

The RCIPS maintains cases take time to investigate, and notes that each individual occurrence brings a different set of circumstances.

‘Putting together case files can be time consuming, particularly when there are many documents to collect such as medical forms and pathologist reports,’ a statement from the department read. ‘Investigations can take months and in very complex criminal matters some cases have been known to take years to complete.’