Defendant’s parents get $50,000 reprieve

Missing man may be accounted for

Stephen Whittaker’s parents
received an extension last week on the time they were given to produce their
son to Summary Court or else pay the $50,000 they pledged when they signed his
bail bond.

Chief Magistrate Margaret
Ramsay-Hale gave them the extra time after she received information from two
other defendants as to Whittaker’s whereabouts on 14 July, when he should have
attended for his trial on a charge of attempting to export cocaine. The men
have separate matters, not connected with Whittaker’s.

His parents had signed a bail bond
for him in December 2006 after he was charged in connection with almost 14
ounces of the illegal drug. When he did not attend for his trial, Magistrate
Nova Hall summoned the bail sureties to show cause why they should not have to
pay the bond. She also ordered a warrant for Whittaker’s arrest.

Defence Attorney John Furniss had
asked that the warrant not be executed immediately, explaining that he had
received a phone call from Whittaker. He said his client told him he had gone
fishing and was “trapped abroad”. However, Mr. Furniss added, he had not heard
from Whittaker since.

The parents then appeared in court
on 20 July. The chief magistrate told them that signing a bail bond means
assuming responsibility for making sure the bailed person comes to court. She
gave them until 19 August to produce their son or the money (Caymanian Compass,
22 July).

On 18 August, Aaron Solomon
appeared from custody, although his name was not on the case list for the day.
He told the court he had returned to Cayman from Jamaica and “they had
something in the computer when I came back at the airport.” The something was a
warrant failure to attend court on 27 July to answer a charge of doing a
reckless and negligent act that involved the driving of a vehicle.

Solomon, 24, said he had been in
jail in Jamaica, but it wasn’t what people think — it wasn’t drugs. He explained
that, since construction work had slowed down, he was fishing for a living.
While he was out, the engine broke down and the boat drifted to Jamaica.

There he was arrested for illegal
landing and kept in custody at the Remand Centre on Spanish Town Road, Solomon
related. He handed up a document to the court and the magistrate indicated that
it did confirm a charge of illegal landing only. The magistrate granted him
bail and adjourned his case.

On 19 August, with Whittaker’s
parents sitting in court, Mr. Furniss said Whittaker had been along with
Solomon, plus David Alexander Rockett and another man. All four had been
arrested for illegal entry in Jamaica, he told the court.

Rockett, 22, had failed to attend
court on 29 July to answer an assault charge. Attorney Lloyd Samson said his
client had told him of the breakdown at sea and what happened after they
drifted to Jamaica. Rockett spent time in jail and was eventually charged
JA$10,000 (about CI$95) for illegal landing. He suggested the experience should
be sufficient punishment, but the magistrate said no. Even if there were no
restrictions on travel, Rockett had been under a curfew and he had not kept it.
She set his matter for 31 August.

She then asked for Whittaker. “He
was arrested in Jamaica but he is not here,” Mr. Furniss replied. It was not
clear whether Whittaker had yet been dealt with in Jamaica or what his
situation was.

He suggested there could be a
partial penalty for the parents, but not the whole amount of the bail bond.

“They didn’t even know he was in a
boat,” the magistrate observed. She said she would stay the escheatment of the
bond until 31 August so that further information could be obtained.

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