Windell Wellington Dilbert, 74, died in his cell at Northward Prison in the early hours of Saturday, the day after his charge of murder had been discussed in Grand Court.
Mr. Dilbert had been in custody since 1 June 2007, when he was arrested after Michael Elliot Ebanks, 40, was found dead in the Courts Road living quarters they shared. Initial reports indicated neighbours had heard the men arguing earlier over a pack of cigarettes.
Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service issued a press release on the circumstances of Mr. Dilbert’s death.
It said the night-shift officer, on one of his routine checks, ‘noticed that Dilbert seemed to be sitting on the floor of his cell. The officer found him unresponsive and called the shift supervisor, who attended and called 911. Medics attended and pronounced him dead. Police also attended.’
Mr. Dilbert did not appear in court on Friday. His attorney, Mr. Edward Renvoize, had requested that he not be brought because the mention was to set a date for argument as to Mr. Dilbert’s fitness to plead.
He said matters were complicated because Mr. Dilbert had developed a growth in his neck which the doctors had presumed was cancer. A medical report was to have been produced for the court.
Mr. Dilbert’s son was in court and asked permission to speak, which Justice Charles Quin granted. The son said he had seen his father go down from about 190 pounds to about 140 or 130. The doctor had told him, from his experience, that the senior Mr. Dilbert had cancer in his throat. However, he indicated, his father did not want the procedures that were necessary for diagnosis and therapy.
The son reported that his father had been transported back and forth from Northward to the hospital because he couldn’t breathe. The reason was that his throat was closing up.
Justice Quin wondered if it would be easier to keep Mr. Dilbert in the hospital rather then transport him back and forth all the time. But, he noted, if Mr. Dilbert were in the hospital, a rota of three prison guards would be required for him there.
In either case, Mr. Renvoize noted, the court did not have the jurisdiction to remand Mr. Dilbert to the hospital.
Justice Quin said if doctors confirmed what Mr. Dilbert’s son said, which they would probably do in an instant, it would be quite wrong for people not to listen to whatever they advised.
Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn said she would convey the judge’s thoughts to the Prison Governor.
The next date set was 21 November.
Mr. Dilbert’s son begged the court’s pardon, but said he didn’t know if his father would be around by then, given his rate of deterioration.
Justice Quin said Mrs. Gunn and Mr. Renvoize would do everything they could to bring Mr. Dilbert’s condition to the attention of prison authorities and the hospital service to see if any sort of accommodation could be provided to make him more comfortable.
Following Mr. Dilbert’s death, the Prison Service confirmed that a Coroner’s Inquest would be held, ‘which is standard practice for deaths in custody.’