Prisons chief dead at 57

Cayman Islands Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation William Rattray died Saturday afternoon of what appeared to be natural causes.

William Rattray

William Rattray

The Caymanian Compass has learned that Mr. Rattray, who lived in North Side, was found unresponsive around 2.30pm Saturday at a communal swimming pool in the complex where he lived.

He was rushed to the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service is investigating the death, but officers said there initially appeared to be no suspicious circumstances.

Mr. Rattray was brought to Cayman in July 2006 to staff the newly created post of commissioner of corrections and rehabilitation. He was responsible for oversight and strategic direction of Her Majesty’s Prison Service in Cayman, working with Director of Prisons Dwight Scott and other corrections agencies.

The commissioner’s sudden death Saturday took the Cayman Islands community by surprise. It was understood that Mr. Rattray’s wife and several high-ranking members of the civil service were attending hospital Saturday afternoon.

“On behalf of the whole civil service, and especially Her Majesty’s Cayman Islands Prison Service, we wish to extend our deepest condolences to Dr. Rattray’s wife Margaret, who has become a much loved and respected school Principal in North Side and Savannah, to his two children and his brother, and to Dr. Rattray’s many friends here and in Scotland,’ Cayman Islands Acting Deputy Governor Franz Manderson said on Sunday.

The Cayman Islands prison system had come under fire this year following the death of 21-year-old Sabrina Schirn near the site of Northward Prison’s wilderness farm in March.

An inmate who was on a work detail at that farm, Randy Martin, has been charged in Sabrina’s death (see page 2 of today’s Compass).

A report issued earlier this year recommended closing the farm and selling the land. The prison programme there has not resumed since.

Martin’s trial has led to some embarrassing allegations for the prison system, including claims that ganja plants were found on the farm site and that prisoners were receiving illegal drugs.