Harryton Rivers was in prison just before he got citizenship
Harryton Rivers-Valdespino, the man
who was shot dead while breaking into a house last week, was granted Caymanian
status by the Cabinet in 2003.
Records indicate Rivers-Valdespino
was in prison just before he received Caymanian status.
Rivers-Valdespino, 29, died after
being shot in the abdomen by a 65-year-old homeowner while breaking into a home
on Liguinea Circle near the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town. He had
been ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device on his leg by law
enforcement, but had taken the device off before he was shot.
Known also as ‘Harrington’,
Rivers-Valdespino had been in trouble with the law from an early age. In October 2000, at the age of 19, he was
convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for the robbery of a taxi
driver that occurred in July 2000. He had pointed an imitation firearm – a
flare gun – at the victim during the robbery, which was the first known case of
a taxi driver being robbed in the Cayman Islands. Records indicated
Rivers-Valdespino initially went to prison on remand for the crime in August
2000 and was not released from prison until July 2003. The first batch of Cabinet grants of status
started in July 2003 and went on through the end of that year.
On the alphabetical list published
in the Cayman Islands Gazette on 31 December, 2003, of people who received
status by way of Cabinet grants, Rivers-Valdespino was number 2,171 of
2,850. Rivers was born in Cuba but had
family links to the Cayman Islands.
In October 2005, Rivers-Valdespino
was sentenced to 18 months in prison in relation to a burglary that took place
during curfew at a Savannah gift shop just after Hurricane Ivan struck 11/12
September 2004. In November 2006, he was sentenced to three years for handling
stolen goods and two years for burglary and was not released from prison until
7 April this year.
The large number of Cabinet status
grants in 2003 led to a challenge by the Caymanian Bar Association, which
sought a judicial review to have the grants reversed. The case was eventually abandoned. However,
negative public sentiment about the status grants was a focus of the People’s
Progressive Movement election campaign in 2005. The PPM swept in to power in
the May 2005 elections, winning all nine seats contested by its party members.
Rumours circulated widely at the time that one or more of the people granted
Caymanian status were in prison.
George Town Legislator Alden
McLaughlin was one of the PPM members who brought up the issue of the Cabinet
status grants during the 2005 election campaign. He said Monday the lack of
scrutiny of those granted status by Cabinet was compounded by the permanence of
“The status granted by Cabinet is
irrevocable under the law,” he said, noting that other forms of Caymanian
Status could be revoked after the conviction of certain crimes. “That was one
of the main reasons we objected.”
Former United Democratic Party
Member Roy Bodden, who is now out of politics but was a member of Cabinet in
2003, admitted there was “chaos” surrounding the way lists of people’s names
were submitted to Cabinet for grants of status, especially toward the end of
the process. Mr. Bodden said lists were coming from multiple sources, including
Cabinet ministers and civil servants. “Who didn’t submit a list,” he asked.