Anthony Augustus Senior, 39, was sentenced last week to four months imprisonment after he admitted writing an e-mail in his ex-girlfriend’s account that made it look as if she had falsely accused him of rape.
The offence was doing an act in order to defeat the course of justice.
Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale said she wanted the sentence to deter anyone from creating false evidence.
Senior Crown Counsel Trevor Ward outlined the facts. He said Senior had been arrested after an allegation of rape. He was then bailed to await a ruling on the matter by the Legal Department.
In July, he told a police officer he wanted to show him an e-mail he had received on Facebook. He was allowed to log onto his account on a computer at the Criminal Investigation Department.
He called up an e-mail dated the previous day. It showed a message apparently sent from the ex-girlfriend’s Facebook to another person and copied to Senior. It said ‘I was not actually raped by Anthony. I allowed him to do it after the fight.’ It continued: ‘Also Policeman (Name) likes me, so Anthony will be away for a while.’
The officer who saw the message explained it could not be taken at face value and would need to be investigated thoroughly to establish where it came from. He made a copy of the e-mail and Senior signed it.
Subsequently the officer spoke with Senior’s attorney, then called Senior to the station and arrested him.
In his interview, Senior confessed to being the writer of the e-mail. He said he knew his ex-girlfriend’s way of thinking, so he was able to figure out her password and gain access to her account. He recognised that by sending the e-mail it would look as if she had made a false report of being raped.
Defence Attorney Lloyd Samson said courts look seriously at matters like this because they tend to erode public confidence in the system of justice.
He conceded that authorities indicate custody for such an offence, but hoped to convince the court of extenuating circumstances.
Mr. Samson explained that Senior and the woman had been in a relationship a long time, but then things did not go as planned. Discord resulted in an allegation of rape and Senior was in custody for five days.
As a result of the allegation, he was left unemployed, which worried him because his home was subject to foreclosure, his children’s education was at risk and his mother had suffered a heart attack. Those were the things operating on his mind.
‘At the end of the day the Legal Department ruled no further action be taken regarding the rape. He had panicked because of all the personal circumstances and he forwarded this e-mail. He spent seven days in custody for this,’ Mr. Samson summarised.
Mr. Samson said Senior came to his office after showing the e-mail to the officer. Contact was made with the police the same day, so Senior avoided wasting police time and resources and the ex-girlfriend was never in any jeopardy of being arrested or investigated.
As a result of this offence it was unlikely Senior would remain in Cayman, since he is a Jamaican national who had been here on work permit. He already spent time in custody, Mr. Samson emphasised.
The magistrate referred to Senior’s interview, in which he said the wheel of justice was turning too slow while he stood the risk of losing his house and family.
‘That is precisely the attitude that compels courts to impose custody,’ she said. ‘You felt entitled to accuse someone else of making a false accusation.’ That person could have been arrested and imprisoned, she pointed out.
‘If you were so confident of your position [of innocence] why would you have taken such a step?’ she asked. ‘By acting unlawfully, you could only be digging a deeper hole for yourself… If you hadn’t been in such a hurry you might be a free man today.’
Instead, Senior had to suffer the consequences of seeking to undermine the process of justice. Luckily, he had received legal advice shortly after his offence and he was able to mitigate the damage against the woman concerned. Otherwise, he would have been looking at a heavier sentence, the magistrate said.