Police: Prison chief died of ‘natural causes’

International outpouring of sympathy for Bill Rattray

Cayman Islands Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation William Rattray died of natural causes, a post mortem performed Monday afternoon has confirmed.

Mr. Rattray, who lived in North Side, was found unresponsive in the water around 2.30pm Saturday at a communal swimming pool outside his home.

The Caymanian Compass has learned that the prisons chief apparently suffered a heart attack while swimming Saturday afternoon.

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

High ranking members of the Cayman Islands civil service, as well as Mr. Rattray’s wife Margaret, gathered at the George Town hospital Saturday.

Deputy Chief Secretary Franz Manderson said Sunday that the prison boss’s colleagues were simply stunned by his sudden passing.

‘I was just working with the guy on Friday, and now he’s gone,’ Mr. Manderson said.

It was not only the Cayman Islands that noted Mr. Rattray’s passing. No fewer than five UK newspapers wrote stories about the commissioner’s and father of two’s passing.

Mr. Manderson said Her Majesty’s Prison system in the Cayman Islands would continue to function as normal under the Director of Prisons Dwight Scott. He said Monday that it was too early to discuss whether Mr. Rattray’s post would be filled.

His contract wasn’t due to expire until 2011.

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 the Prison Service in Cayman, working with Mr. Scott and other corrections agencies.

Mr. Rattray’s office was in the main government administration building in George Town, although he frequently was at the Northward Prison site participating in inmate education and job development programmes.

He was a strong advocate for sentence planning or sentence management regimes in the prison system.

Northward Prison, Cayman’s main holding facility for adult male prisoners, was constantly overcrowded during Mr. Rattray’s administration, but he was fond of pointing out that violent incidents at the facility were few.

He told the Scottish daily Sun during an interview just weeks before his death that he intended to return to Scotland in two years’ time and put some of what he’d learned in Cayman to use there.

Mr. Rattray also told the newspaper he was ‘enjoying living in the Cayman Islands.’

In last year of Commissioner Rattray’s time in office, the Cayman Islands prison system had come under fire 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 and Mr. Rattray took much of the public blame for the incident. .

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.