Sureties must pay $40,000 after man skips bail, leaves

Richard Hurlstone “took advantage of their kindness”, judge says

Richard Robert Hurlstone, charged in connection with a March 2010 kidnapping, cost two people $20,000 each because he failed to comply with his bail conditions after they signed as sureties for him.

Bail had been set at $50,000 and each surety signed for $25,000. After hearing from attorneys on their behalf, Justice Charles Quin reduced the bond owed to $20,000 each.

Attorney Steve McField appeared in Grand Court on Friday on behalf of Hurlstone’s sister-in-law and revealed she was now in danger of losing her home.

Attorney Waide DaCosta represented a man who had been friends with Hurlstone’s wife’s family.

Mr. DaCosta noted that bail conditions, along with the cash bond of $50,000, had included surrender of travel documents, a curfew from 8pm to 5.30am and reporting to police three times per week.

Justice Quin accepted there was no blame attached to either of the sureties. But, he pointed out, people who agree to sign as a surety have to understand the responsibility they are assuming. “Their obligation is to ensure he answers to his bail.”

The judge said Hurlstone was the one who had left his sureties in this predicament. “He took advantage of their kindness.”

He said he was prepared to remit 20 per cent and adjourn the matter for four weeks so that the parties could arrange payment. “In order for sureties to mean something, people have to bear the consequences. The law has to be complied with,” he pointed out.

The US system of professional bail bondsmen was referred to by Mr. McField when he sought to show cause why the entire bond should not be forfeited. Through television, people have seen how the US system works: bondsmen put up the bail and if the defendant absconds, it’s the bondsman who goes after him.

“We don’t have that system here,” Mr. McField said. “When people give sureties here they do so because of the genuineness of people. They really believe in the innocence of the person and that he will show up.”

In this case, Hurlstone’s sister-in-law agreed to sign out of sympathy with her sister and for the sake of the children.

Mr. DaCosta told the court Hurlstone’s wife had gone to his client and begged him to be surety, saying her husband was completely innocent. His client had known Hurlstone from the time he came to Cayman [from Honduras] and there was nothing to indicate he was a risk.

The attorney said his client had put up a piece of land for surety, even though he is nearing retirement age and has to manage his resources. He was taken full advantage of by Hurlstone, Mr. DaCosta concluded.

Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban cited the section of the Criminal Procedure Code that gives the court power to deal with forfeiture of a bail bond. The judge can require payment of the whole sum or remit the whole or any part, as he thinks just. Mrs. Lobban cited a 1991 court case in which sureties were given a 15 per cent reduction. She said the court has wide discretion.

Ms Lobban reviewed the circumstances of Hurlstone’s failure to comply with his bail conditions (Caymanian Compass, 19 January). She said after he did not report to police on a required date in December, checks were made at his home and at the airport, where there was no record of his departure. “He did not leave via regular means,” she told the court.

Since December, according to police intelligence, Hurlstone has been spotted in Honduras with his family, Ms Lobban said.

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