Judge’s absence delays hearing

The continued absence of Justice Alex Henderson from the Grand Court led to the postponement of a sentencing and confiscation hearing that had been scheduled for Monday.


Justice Alex Henderson

Justice Henderson has not been in court since he was arrested on 24 September by UK Metropolitan Police on suspicion of misconduct in a public office.

He has not been charged with anything and he has not been suspended. However, as Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said last week, there was agreement it would be inappropriate for Justice Henderson to preside over matters in the present circumstances (Caymanian Compass, 2 October).

In April, Justice Henderson presided in the trial of Vanessa Tracey Hunter, whom a jury found guilty of stealing $31,430.27 from British Caymanian Insurance Company Ltd. The offence was said to have occurred in 2003 at the company’s office in Cayman Brac, where Hunter worked.

After the verdict, Defence Attorney Edward Renvoize asked that a social inquiry report be obtained before sentencing. The Crown also asked for an adjournment to prepare an application for confiscation of Hunter’s assets.

The sentence and confiscation hearing was adjourned until 8 August and then until 6 October.

On Monday, Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn told Justice Charles Quin that both parties sought the court’s assistance because Justice Henderson was seized of the matter.

Justice Quin said he had read the papers and did not want to delay the matter or keep Ms Hunter waiting. ‘It would be possible for it to be heard by another judge, isn’t that correct?’ he asked.

Mr. Renvoize agreed it was possible, but added ‘it’s probably undesirable if the opportunity can be ascertained for Ms Hunter to be sentenced by the trial judge.’ He suggested a two-month adjournment ‘and we take stock of where we are at that stage.’

Mention was set for 12 December, with the sentence and confiscation hearing listed for 16 January.

Mrs. Gunn suggested that the judge order a transcript of the trial because of various references to sums of money. The transcript is to be available by 12 December in case it is needed.

Justice Quin continued Hunter’s bail.