Ennis: ‘Little regard’ for publisher

Crown witness Deputy Police Commissioner Anthony Ennis told the Grand Court jury on Friday he had ‘very little regard’ for Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales.

In March 2006, he explained, Net News published articles he considered libellous and a misrepresentation of his profession. He instructed attorneys to seek an apology or retraction – otherwise to proceed with legal action. He then decided not to proceed.

Later he agreed that he had expected to be reimbursed.

Asked by prosecuting Counsel Andrew Radcliffe QC how he regarded Mr. Seales in 2006, Mr. Ennis said he knew Mr. Seales’ wife from church and didn’t want to offend her, but ‘I had very little regard for Desmond Seales.’

The questions arose because the charges against defendant Lyndon Martin are based on his accusation that Mr. Ennis and Mr. Seales were engaged in a corrupt relationship whereby Mr. Ennis passed on sensitive police material and Mr Seales published it.

Mr. Radcliffe asked Mr. Ennis if there were any truth to that allegation. ‘Absolutely not,’ the senior police officer replied.

Defence Counsel Trevor Burke QC has already conceded that the evidence now available indicates that Mr. Ennis was not leaking information. He said the issue was what Martin genuinely believed (Caymanian Compass, 2 September).

Other Crown witnesses have said Martin told them that Mr. Ennis and Mr. Seales met at Buckingham Place for coffee and at Rum Point. Mr. Ennis said he never met the publisher for coffee; he had been to Rum Point two times in eight years and he described the groups he went with.

He said he never told Mr. Seales about the purchase of a police helicopter and that he was ‘never in the loop – I had very little knowledge’ about the helicopter.

Mr. Ennis denied telling any advance information about drug operations, pointing out it would be counterproductive. Asked about a story about Mr. Kernohan’s personal life, he said he never knew it until he read it in a local paper.

It had been suggested that Mr. Ennis assisted Mr. Seales after the publisher crashed his car while drunk. But Mr. Ennis pointed out that he was an administrator, not a patrol officer. There would have to be more officers involved in a cover-up, he pointed out. And if no police were at the scene, all Mr. Seales had to do was leave.

Asked about his career ambitions, he said he had no interest in being commissioner. He did not even apply for Deputy Commissioner because he knew it would be political, until former Commissioner David Thursfield encouraged him.

Asked about his relationship with Deputy Commissioner Rudolph Dixon, Mr. Ennis said Mr. Dixon had told then-Commissioner Stuart Kernohan that he (Dixon) intended to be Commissioner of police.

‘I told him I had no interest’ in the post, Mr. Ennis emphasised, describing himself as the junior partner of the two deputies. ‘I can do without that stress.’

Mr. Burke commented, ‘As far as we know there was no bad blood between you and Lyndon Martin.’ Mr Ennis replied, ‘I’m curious to know where Lyndon Martin came up with this.’

Mr. Burke remarked that Lyndon had got it from Mr. Seales. When Mr. Radcliffe rose to object, Mr. Burke said, ‘I thought that was a pretty obvious point in the trial thus far.’

Before Mr. Ennis’ evidence, former undercover officer Delroy Wayne Davis took the stand and told the court he had written to Net News and the Caymanian Compass ‘to convey my frustration’.

One of the alleged leaks Martin is said to have accused Mr. Ennis of had to do with the withdrawal of firearms from certain police officers.

But Mr. Davis confirmed that he wrote the article he was shown. He said it appeared to have been written by someone else because he was an active member of the force.

He explained that, in 2002, he and fellow officer Ansel Record had been involved in an undercover drug operation involving 8,000 pounds of ganja. Eight people had been arrested and proceedings were taking place in the US.

At some point their identities were revealed and it was perceived that their lives were at risk. In 2003 they were issued firearms for their own protection. The risk assessment continued, without Mr. Davis’ knowledge, and authority to retain the firearm was withdrawn. He was told the threat no longer existed.

Mr. Davis said he personally delivered the document to Net News, told the receptionist it was confidential and he was a member of the police force. In the article as it was published, he was identified as an informed source.

Former Net News reporter Suzanne Livingston told the court she wrote an article about Mr. Kernohan shortly after he came to Cayman. She said her sources were on-line, Scottish newspapers.

During the time she worked at the paper, 2004-2007, Mr. Seales called her into his office to get her to write a certain story. She specifically asked who the source was, but she could not get an answer. She ended up not writing the story because she could not get corroboration.

She said she observed phone conversations between Mr. Seales and Mr. Ennis, but those were largely before. Deborah Denis began work as Police Public Relations Officer and ‘there wasn’t a formal structure in place’. Ms Denis told the court previously she took up the post in February 2006.