Teens guilty of forging currency

Curfew imposed until sentencing

A Grand Court
jury last week found three teen-aged boys guilty of forging Cayman
Islands currency notes, mostly of the $25 denomination. The notes
were produced on home computer equipment, including scanner and printer.

All three had pleaded not guilty to
the forgery charge.

However, one of them admitted possession.
After an incident at school that led police to question him, his mother found
24 $25 notes inside a teddy bear in the boy’s bedroom. It was actually her
teddy bear and when she picked it up she saw it had been cut.

A fourth boy, charged with possession
and uttering counterfeit currency – passing it into circulation – was found not
guilty.

Because the boys were 13, 14 and 15
years old at the time of the offences, their names will not be reported. They
are referred to as A, B, C and D.

After the jury’s verdicts, Justice
Roy Jones told the boys found guilty that the court would request social
inquiry reports on them, so they should return for sentencing on 19 February. Meanwhile,
they are to observe a curfew from 7pm to 6am.

Defence Attorney Nicholas Dixey
acknowledged that if it were adults before the court, they would have to be
advised of the possibility of a custodial sentence. But in this case, involving
young persons, he asked if their bail could not continue as before. Ordering a
curfew now seemed to be a form of punishment before sentence, he suggested.

The judge said that during the
trial bail had been based on the presumption of innocence. But now, “They have
been convicted. That means something.”

The forged notes came to light in
September 2007.

In presenting the case for the
Prosecution, Crown Counsel John Masters first called Stephanie Scott. She told
the court she was assisting cashiers at the John Gray High School canteen.

On Friday, 7 September, she
received a $50 note. At the end of the day she noticed it was a fake. She
showed it to her father, who has the contract for the canteen service. They
decided to see if someone would hand over another fake note on Monday.

Another cashier had taken in a
counterfeit $25 on the Friday.

Monday, 10 September, was a typical
day with a lot of quick transactions.
Every cashier knew to feel the texture of the bill handed in, Ms Scott said.

Then she herself received a $25
note and felt it. She told the student who had given it to her that it was
fake. She said he replied, “It’s not me, it’s not me. Someone gave me the
note.”

She said she hung on to his book bag
and tried to get the attention of a security guard. By that time, the boy
“shrugged me off and took off – he basically ran out of the cafeteria.”

Ms Scott reported the matter to the
deputy principal, Mr. Samaroo. A book of student photos was used to identify
the boy as A.

A was found and taken to the
office. He said he had passed noted on Friday and Monday on behalf of B and did
not know they were counterfeit.

B was then called to the office and
he denied involvement. Mr. Samaroo phoned the boys’ parents and requested them
to come to the school. He also phoned police and handed over the two notes from
Friday and the one from Monday.

The officers spoke to the boys in
the presence of their parents and officers of the Family Support
Unit.

When B was asked where he got the
notes, his reply was “I nah getting um from nobody.”

After his mother found the counterfeit
notes in his room, B was interviewed again. He denied being involved in the
producing of the notes, but admitted giving two notes to A.

Asked where he got them, B
implicated C and D.

Meanwhile a Bodden Town
businessman reported receiving a counterfeit $25.

Officers checking the home of C and
D found the genuine original note that the businessman had a fake copy of. They
also found the originals of the copies that had been handed in at the canteen.

Further, on examining a stack of
computer printing paper, one officer found a sheet on which a back and a front
of a $25 note had been printed. A paper cutter was also on the premises.

During interviews with police in
the presence of their parents, C and D said they had nothing to do with the
production of the counterfeit notes.
They said B came to their house several times. They suggested he could have
used the computer to print the notes while they were watching television in the
same room.

C’s father spoke during the
interview and said he had seen B at the computer.

 The boy A gave evidence during the trial. The
other three did not, relying on their interviews.

A agreed he passed two counterfeit
notes into circulation but said he did not know at the time that they were not
real. He denied running from the canteen, but said he went to find B to ask him
where the notes came from.

During addresses to the jury,
Defence Attorney Adam King pointed out that the canteen cashier had accepted
the fake note on the Friday. “The cashier was fooled, so you might think [A]
was too,” Mr. King suggested.

The jury agreed and their not
guilty verdict was unanimous.

The guilty verdicts were also
unanimous.

Mr. Dixey, along with Mr. King and Defence
Attorney John Furniss, had queried why it took a year and a half before police
charged the boys.

Sergeant Michael Montaque said the
officer originally in charge of the case had left the force. After he took
over, there were several leads that had to be investigated. Then the information
had to be compiled and sent to the Legal Department.

In his summing up, Mr. Masters said
it’s okay to criticise police when they get things wrong, but the public should
acknowledge when they get things right. In this case, police could have stopped
with A and B, but they continued to follow leads. In this case, they had done
not just a pretty good investigation but a superior investigation.