Police gave suspect ‘implicit promise’

Jonathan Mellard was found not guilty
last week after trial for possession of an unlicensed firearm – ammunition – in
West Bay in February this year.

Justice Algernon Smith accepted the
arguments of Defence Attorney John Furniss – that Mellard’s admission to police
should be excluded from evidence and there was no other evidence.

After reviewing what happened while
Mellard was in custody, the judge concluded that Mellard “was induced to make
the admission by the promise that he would not be charged if he did so, an
implicit promise to my mind”.

was arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm and taken into custody. Two
days later, he was interviewed by Constable Howard Campbell; he denied being in
possession of any firearm.

Less than an hour later, Mr. Campbell
was supervising Mellard as he smoked a cigarette behind the police station.
Mellard said he could give the officer a gun and some bullets if the officer
would not charge him and if he could get bail.

The judge said Mr. Campbell’s response
was important. The officer’s evidence was that he told Mellard he could not
promise him bail or anything. But if Mellard should hand in a gun to the
police, Mr. Campbell would speak to his supervisor and it was more than likely
Mellard would not be charged for it. Mr. Campbell further said that if it were
his decision, he would not charge because he would be happy to get a firearm
off the streets. But it was not his decision.

Mr. Campbell said he informed Sergeant
Oremule of Mellard’s proposal. About 20 minutes later, Mr. Campbell, Mr.
Oremule and another officer escorted Mellard to Batabano Road where he pointed
out an area and said that was where he hid the gun, but it wasn’t there.

Mellard directed them to another spot
and said the gun could be there but he had been so drunk he couldn’t remember.

The next day, the officers went back
with a metal detector and found an Orion 12-gauge signal flare with one round
of ammunition in it.

Mellard was then taken to the scene,
shown the gun and asked by Mr. Campbell if that was the same gun he had told
them about yesterday. Mellard replied, “Mr. Campbell, big man, big man, you
told me I would not get charged….”

Mr. Oremule asked him if it was the same
gun and Mellard said yes.

Justice Smith said if the police did not
accept Mellard’s proposal they should have cautioned him and let him know he
was not obliged to say anything. “The silence of the police in the
circumstances would have reasonably led him to believe that if he said yes, it
was the same gun that he spoke about, that he would not get charged.”

The judge said his overriding duty was
to ensure a fair trial. Using Mellard’s admission against him in these
circumstances would not be fair.

Crown Counsel Candia James had argued
that the officers acted in good faith and should not be faulted for the
interpretation Mellard put on what was said.

Knowledge of the gun alone was not
possession, but once Mellard admitted hiding it, he was admitting custody and


  1. And on top of all this, they now don’t have to inform a suspect of their right to remain silent !

    The Cayman Islands is quickly slipping down the slope from thriving, democratic British Overseas Territory to ‘3rd world banana republic dictatorship’, in record time.

    What are the people of the Cayman Islands going to do about it ?

  2. It is most relieving to see that there is still interest in a fair trial in the Cayman Islands and the judge should be commended for his stance on this.

    It is becoming more and more apparent that the police are losing sight of proper investigative procedures and are deciding to hop and skip over people’s rights in order to achieve a conviction. However, it is not they alone that is taking up the challenge to do this. These practices are now being attempted even by the crown itself, as witnessed in a recent hearings pertaining to a murder trial in which the prosecution was trying to push forward a trial without the accused having a preliminary inquiry, a right that is his to exercise and has the potential to prove his innocence. Had it not been for the judge to recognize that there argument was without good warrant, he could have been denied that right.

    I understand the urgency of the citizens and law enforcement to address violent crimes, but let the actions of those with these responsibilities be fairly conducted.

    Entrapment and rights violations doesn’t make the accused wrong, it makes the government wrong. And the people who accept these actions equally so.

    Don’t accept these performances. They’ll do nothing for your children and your grandchildren. And they don’t guarantee that the right person is being penalised either.

  3. Watchmiwatchu

    That point hasn’t been lost on me either; thanks for bringing it out.

    As the Cayman Government continues to implement its own policies and regulations, the only buffer that the common person has is the protection of the courts, which thankfully, for now at least, answers to the Court of Appeal and the Judicial Council of the Privy Council (the Privy Council)and the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg.

    At least the judges are aware of their responsibilities under the European Human Rights Charter and when they violate those rights, the Privy Council hands down some heavy financial penalties, of which quite a few beneficiaries have been cases brought from the Cayman judicial system, over the years.

    Some people earned their retirement money off the Cayman Government’s and police’s efforts to by-pass their rights in the pursuit of a conviction !

    Sadly, people in Cayman never seem to learn from prior mistakes and continue to fall into the same traps over and over again.

    The biggest trap the Caymanian public was led into was voting for this new Constitution without an immediately implemented rights charter and 3 years is more than enough time for any government to by-pass those protections with legislation of their own.

    This looks like whats taking place in Cayman now and until the people wisen up, smarten up about their own rights and protection, they will ever be cannon fodder for those in power.

    You can lead the horse to water but you can’t force him to drink !

  4. Fixing the problem means going back to the drawing table and getting it right as many times as necessary.

    Thank God we have a constitution with a bill of Rights it gives us some basis to work on. No need to continue to discredit those that worked hard to initiate it. Where others just sat on the sidelines and did nothing.
    Now they have a lot to say. Partly because of jealousy and the fact that they are not getting the glory because their name was not called in the whole process.
    my grandmother always said’ BUILD YOUR OWN FIRE
    and don’t throw water on some one else’s.

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