Damage, theft charges against Catron dismissed

Chief Magistrate finds no case to answer

Former radio talk show host and political candidate Sandra Catron successfully defended herself against charges of damage to property and theft, with Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale ruling on Wednesday afternoon that there was no case for her to answer

The charges arose from incidents in November 2009 at Centennial Towers in West Bay where Ms Catron had rented a unit. In the process of vacating the unit, she removed fixtures and damaged a partition she had paid to have installed.

Ms Catron made her submission of no case to answer after Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban concluded evidence for the prosecution. She cited a high court decision stating no offence is committed if the person damaging property does so in the honest but mistaken belief that the property is his own.

Ms Lobban argued that the defendant had acted in bad faith, deliberately destroying the partition because there was no agreement in place to compensate her for it.

The magistrate said the Crown had failed to prove a dishonest intent. She pointed to evidence that the owners’ initial position was that the renter should put the unit back as it was when she rented it. They then advised her that she did not have permission to remove anything. If the owners did not know the terms of their contract, how could the defendant, the magistrate concluded.

Be sure to read more on this story in upcoming editions of the Caymanian Compass….

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2 COMMENTS

  1. As a landlord, this makes me sick. If a tenant permanetly attaches something to a condo or house, then it becomes a part of the house and you leave it behind.

    Either that, or if you do have it removed, you must fully restore everything to it’s original condition.

    Editor’s note: This comment had to be edited for legal reasons. We would ask readers to refrain from making defamatory remarks about individuals in their posts.

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  2. CaymanMermaid,

    If you knew all of the facts of this case or bothered to inquire you would know better. The Chief Magistrate specifically said the common law position did not apply because there was a contract in place. The contract allowed the Landlord to do whatever suited them depending on the tenant. Ms. Catron proved via cross examination that all other tenants in that building (all 6+) of them were allowed to remove everything they put in the unit including tiled floors without issue. Furthermore, the judge accepted emails that confirmed Ms. Catron was instructed to remove all of her items from the premise and put it back in the original state. Some 2 weeks after sending the initial email did the Landlord then change their minds and wanted to keep everything (breach of contract?). So as you can see the ruling was completely correct based on the facts! If you don’t know the facts … and I do mean all the facts you should be careful commenting! She had receipts, the landlords had none but were trying to clean that certain items "should have" been in the unit. No one can charge you with theft for something that should have been there but you’re not certain it was and have no evidence at all to show that it was. In fact, the property manager accepted that they never once saw the items in questions. This was at best a civil matter and landlords are known to try to use the police to help them solve civil matters because they don’t want to pay attorney fees.

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