Cadet Corps officer found guilty

Sentence suspended for causing grievous bodily harm

Suspended Cadet Corps Adult
Under-Officer Lawrence Nelson was found guilty last week of causing grievous
bodily harm to a fellow officer during a fight in Cayman Brac more than two
years ago.

Staff Sergeant Michael Reid told
the court that both bones of his lower left leg had been broken and took three
months to heal.

Magistrate Grace Donalds imposed a
sentence of two months’ imprisonment, but suspended it for two years after
hearing mitigation from Attorney John Furniss.

In her verdict, the magistrate
noted that the charge arose from an incident on 14 July, 2008, at the Cadet
Corps summer camp on the Brac High School grounds. Nelson was duty officer with
responsibilities to make sure that the kitchen area was clean after meals.

This duty conflicted with another
duty, which was to transport cadets to the Bluff for a football match.

Nelson requested the van keys from
Sgt. Reid, who refused to provide them because the kitchen had not been
cleaned.

The matter was taken to Captain
Ricardo Henry, who said the duty on the compound took priority. His evidence
was that he told both men Nelson should make sure the cleaning duty was handed
over to someone else and afterward take the cadets to the Bluff.

The above evidence was given in
October 2009, when the trial began. Nelson gave evidence on 28 September, 2010.

The magistrate summarised his
account. He said he had not been asked to clean the kitchen and no problem had
been raised about it.

Two witnesses said they were eating
lunch in the room where the van keys were. They described Sgt. Reid reaching
over a desk to get something and Nelson stretching over also. The two men
collided in the small space and Nelson “threw or tossed” Sgt. Reid to the
ground and immobilised him with his body. Sgt. Reid cried out, “Let me go!”

Nelson’s account was that, as he
reached for the van keys, his head was slammed into the wall. He said Sgt. Reid
came at him again full force and Nelson stuck out his arm. He said they both
landed on the ground.

The magistrate said the issue was
credibility. Not only did three prosecution witnesses support the complainant,
but Nelson’s evidence did not have the ring of truth and she would have
expected his injury to be more severe.

Mr. Furniss said it was an
unfortunate incident that could have been avoided, but Sgt. Reid had no
flexibility whatsoever, and the kitchen situation was second priority for
Nelson. The injury was not anything he wished to occur.

Nelson had been suspended since the
incident, Mr. Furniss said. He had been successful in recruiting cadets on the
Brac, building the corps there from a small number to over 100 youngsters. As a
result of this conviction, a decision would have to be made as to whether
Nelson could continue work with
young people.

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