Surety must pay $1,000 after Paloma

The surety for Jermaine Johnson was ordered to $1,000 after Johnson left the island the weekend of Hurricane Paloma.

Johnson was the defendant in an ongoing trial for two counts of wounding.

The trial was concluded in his absence and a jury found him not guilty. Johnson was a security guard on duty at Margaritaville in early 2007 when an incident led to the charges.

A Jamaican national, he was on bail and apparently not required to surrender his passport.

Attorney Ben Tonner, who had represented Johnson, spoke on behalf of the surety on 28 November before Justice Charles Quin.

He said the surety had been accompanying Johnson to court and sitting for long periods while the trial progressed.

‘The departure of the defendant coincided with Hurricane Paloma and associated problems. Had that exceptional event not occurred [the surety] would have continued to ensure his attendance,’ Mr. Tonner told the court.

The attorney thought it unusual that Johnson would have been able to leave because there would have been a stop notice at the airport.

Crown Counsel John Masters said if Johnson had surrendered his passport as a condition of bail, it was reasonable to think that the surety’s duty was restricted to getting him to court. ‘It’s not his fault if someone didn’t stop the man at the border.’

Justice Quin reviewed the conditions of bail and said there did not appear to be any regarding surrender of passport.

Mr. Tonner said the surety had done everything in his power to track Johnson down.

At a hearing on 17 November, the court was told there was speculation he had gone to Jamaica for the weekend (10 November being the Remembrance Day holiday) and then was trying to get back, but his work permit had expired.

‘The surety said he had heard Johnson was trying to get a re-entry visa, but that was the last he heard,’ Mr. Tonner advised.

In concluding the matter, Justice Quin said he took into account the surety’s efforts and reduced the original bond of $5,000 to $1,000.

He said he was sorry Johnson had let the man down by disappearing. The responsibilities of a surety are not to be taken lightly, the judge emphasised.

If Johnson comes back to Cayman, the matter can be dealt with, he said.