Murder trial delayed

Defence attorney withdraws

The two men accused of murdering
Estella Scott-Roberts in October 2008 have had the start of their trial put
back until Monday, 1 February.

Kirkland Henry, 28, and Larry
Ricketts, 26, appeared before Chief Justice Anthony Smellie yesterday, the day
the trial should have started.

But Defence Attorney Gordon Aspden
advised the court that Delano Harrison QC, who formerly represented Ricketts,
had applied to withdraw from the case for professional reasons.

Those reasons were not explained in
court, but the Chief Justice indicated that Justice Charles Quin had heard Mr.
Harrison’s application and had granted it.

Mr. Aspden then said he had applied
for a new leading counsel to be brought in for Ricketts, as he was conscious of
the representation by the Crown and that enjoyed by co-defendant Henry.

He acknowledged there were interested
parties other than the defendants and he asked that proceedings be adjourned
until next week.

Ian Bourne QC, instructed by
Attorney Ben Tonner appears for Henry. Mr. Bourne said Mr. Aspden was an
extremely experienced advocate who would be eminently qualified to take the
lead role in the case. However, since lead counsel might be available for next
week, he would not formally oppose an adjournment.

“We would not wish any further
delay beyond Monday,” he cautioned. He pointed out that the defendants have
been in custody 15 months.

The Chief Justice said the law
requires equality of representation. With Mr. Aspden not comfortable about
taking the lead, and because circumstances had developed under such short
notice, he said he would agree to an adjournment. This was on the basis that
new leading counsel would be available shortly to be briefed and take instructions from his client.

Mr. Aspden asked for assistance in
getting a work permit expedited for the new counsel and in arranging a meeting
between counsel and defendant.

Solicitor General Cheryll Richards
QC, who is conducting the case for
the prosecution, advised that witnesses had attended and would need to be bound
over. Approximately 24 witnesses were present.

Ms Richards said the list of those
who would be giving evidence in person (rather than having their statement
agreed to) had been considerably shortened.

The trial is expected to take about
three weeks. The defendants chose to be tried by judge alone.

Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn
attended as assistant to Ms Richards. Attorney Delroy Murray held a watching
brief on behalf of Rayle Roberts, the husband of Estella.

At the time of her death, Mrs.
Scott-Roberts worked as corporate communications manager for Cable and
Wireless. She was known in the community for her previous involvement with the
Women’s Resource Centre, the Crisis Centre and the Cayman Islands National
Policy for Gender Equality.

She was last seen by friends on
Friday night, 10 October 2008, when she attended a dinner with them. The next
day her burnt-out vehicle and a body were found in an area of dyke roads in West Bay.  The body was subsequently identified as Mrs.
Scott-Roberts. She was 33.

In addition to murder, Ricketts and
Henry were also charged with abduction
and robbery. Henry was further charged with rape. However, under Cayman law, on
an indictment for murder no other charge can be included.