Man paid women for their silence


Vincent McDonald received
two years’ imprisonment for indecent assault recently, with another year added
for offering to pay his victim and her employer for their silence.

In sentencing McDonald and
the women, Justice Karl Harrison pointed out that unlawful assistance in
concealing a crime is an extremely serious crime in itself.

McDonald’s offence was
initially concealed by his victim and the victim’s employer, Colleen Burke.
Because both women were of previous good character, with other mitigating
circumstances, they received sentences of one year imprisonment, suspended for
two years.

Senior Crown Counsel Trevor
Burke said McDonald was perverting the course of justice by offering to pay the
women not to report him to police. The other side of perverting the course of
justice is known as compounding the offence: McDonald offered and the women
compounded his offence by agreeing.

At the sentencing hearing
after all three pleaded guilty, Mr. Ward set out the circumstances that led to
the charges. He said McDonald rented a room from Burke, who employed a domestic
helper. McDonald made an arrangement with Burke whereby the helper could clean
his room.

On 4 July, 2008, the helper
entered his room around 7am. She mentioned a list of cleaning supplies she had
left for him and he phoned someone to purchase the items.

He engaged her in
conversation, then suddenly jumped on her, grabbed her breasts and tried to
kiss her. He forced her to lie on the bed and when she screamed he covered her
mouth with one hand and put his other hand under her skirt. She asked if he
were going to rape her. He told her it wasn’t rape – he was “taking it”.

Then his cell phone rang.
It was the person who gave him a ride to work, who had also brought the
cleaning products. He went outside and got the items, brought them in and told
her he was sorry. He said he didn’t know what came over him and asked her not
to tell Burke.

The helper did tell Burke,
who suggested they call police. The helper said she didn’t want anyone to know
what had happened. When McDonald returned home from work, Burke confronted him
and said she was calling police. He asked if they could work something out.

As Burke drove the helper
home, she received a call from a friend. She could hear McDonald in the
background saying he would give the helper anything she wanted because he had a
family to support and didn’t want to go to jail.

According to Burke, when
this was relayed to the helper, the helper asked for $10,000. It was later
agreed that McDonald would pay $8,000 through Burke so that Burke and the
helper would not report him to police.

McDonald subsequently moved
from that room, and the helper inquired of Burke what had happened with the
agreement. Burke assured her she could find McDonald anywhere in Cayman.

In December 2008, while
cleaning, the helper found a agreement signed by Burke and McDonald that he
would pay $8,000 in three instalments between July and September 2008. After a
deterioration in the relationship with her employer, the helper went to police
with the document in February 2009.

Investigations began, and
in March 2009 McDonald told police he had paid Burke about $6,000.

Defence Attorney Lucy Organ
said Burke collected the money and did not keep any of it.

Defence Attorney Margeta
Facey-Clarke said the helper never received any of the money. She said the
woman was not aware she had committed an offence. She pointed out that the
agreement between McDonald and Burke was not negotiated in the helper’s
presence, but she was told about it and could not deny knowledge.

The judge asked what
difference it made if the helper received $1 or $10 or $4,000: “The offence is that she agreed,” he pointed out.

He referred to Mr. Ward’s
submission that there is nothing wrong in the principle of parity – equal
sentencing – for perverting the course of justice and compounding an offence.
The judge concluded that imprisonment must be imposed, but for the women the 12
months could be suspended.