A man who escaped the George Town Police Station last month has been found guilty in court of being concerned in the possession of cocaine with intent to supply.
Magistrate Grace Donalds delivered her verdict against Danian Cecil Henry on Tuesday.
Senior Crown Counsel Trevor Ward advised the court that, as far as he was aware, Henry was still at large.
The magistrate issued a warrant for Henry’s arrest.
Henry, 28, had been in custody for firearms-related matters when he escaped on 25 October. (Caymanian Compass, 27 October).
He had attended court on 13 October, when the trial date of 27 October was fixed and was bailed.
When he did not return, Mr. Ward applied for the trial to proceed in Henry’s absence. The magistrate granted this application because Henry was aware of the date and with that knowledge deliberately absented himself (Compass, 29 October).
She commented on Tuesday that reasons for proceeding without a defendant are: to discourage unjustified absences; to encourage swift resolution of disputes; to take into account the effect of delay on witnesses, victims and/or co-accused.
The magistrate said she had exercised her discretion to hold the trial, although she felt such discretion should be exercised only rarely. But the system of criminal justice should not be open to manipulation of facts by the accused, she pointed out.
Henry could not complain on the grounds that there was no cross-examination of witnesses, no defence evidence and no closing addresses, she added.
The magistrate briefly reviewed the Crown’s case, noting Henry was arrested in January this year after an incident in March 2008. She found that he had supplied about 20 pellets containing cocaine to another man who then came to Cayman and subsequently excreted them.
She reminded herself of the special need for caution in such cases, but found the Crown witnesses credible and reliable.
The man who swallowed the cocaine is scheduled to be sentenced on 24 November.
Police on Tuesday re-issued a reward of CI$5,000 for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of Henry. In addition, CrimeStoppers will pay US$1,000.
A wanted notice released by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service advises the public not to approach Henry directly and to report any sightings of him immediately.
It advises anyone with information to call 949-4222, leave information on an anonymous voicemail service by calling 949-7777 or call Crime Stoppers on 800-8477 (TIPS).