A seven-person jury found Bodden Town MLA Dwayne Seymour not guilty Friday afternoon on charges that he intended to pervert the course of justice by attempting to prevent a security guard from giving evidence in a criminal investigation.
Mr. Seymour was alleged to have said “Security, you nuh see nuttin’.” – a remark allegedly made after Mr. Seymour was engaged in an altercation with Garrone Yap outside the Caymanian Beach Suites Resort on Saturday, 1 May, 2010, when Mr. Bowen was on security duty.
As the verdict was read out, the courtroom in downtown George Town burst into applause until someone in the gallery shouted “quiet”.
Attending the verdict were government ministers Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, Mike Adam, Rolston Anglin, and Mark Scotland as well as West Bay MLA Cline Glidden Jr.
Mr. Seymour still has a common assault charge pending in the case which is due to come before Summary Court later this year.
When the trial started Monday, Mr. Yap said he had come to Cayman to visit Mr. Seymour’s wife, who was separated from the defendant at the time. Both attorneys agreed that the trial was not about the altercation; Defence Attorney Steve McField reminded the jury that an assault charge is pending in Summary Court.
Senior Crown Counsel John Masters said what was in dispute was whether the words were said. The essential issue for jurors was whether they believed the security guard, Mr. Bowen. If they did, that was the end of the matter because Mr. Seymour had denied saying the words.
He suggested what jurors should look for in assessing the credibility of Mr. Yap and Mr. Bowen for the Crown, and Mr. Seymour and Hartwell Minzett for the Defence; take their demeanour into account and consider whether they were trying to assist the court, he said.
He pointed out that Mr, Bowen was not a friend or enemy of anyone; he had nothing to gain by coming to court.
He described Mr. Seymour as not credible, evasive and introducing red herrings such as his wife’s alleged infidelity.
Mr. Seymour gave evidence that he had received information his wife was at the hotel. He came up with a plan to get her to come out by sending a text that he had been hit by a car and she needed to come to the hospital. He referred to it as a scheme and Mr. Minzett called it a prank. “A lie by any other name still stinks,” Mr. Masters commented.
Whether or not Mrs. Seymour decided to strike up a friendship with another man was irrelevant, he said. Jurors might form the view that the Defence was trying to make this a moral issue.
During Mr. Masters’ address, Premier McKeeva Bush entered the courtroom and sat with others in the public gallery for about 15 minutes. Shortly after he left, Health Minister Mark Scotland, who is also an MLA for Bodden Town, came in. He was soon joined by Deputy Speaker Cline Glidden, West Bay MLA. They stayed for the rest of the afternoon.
Mr. McField, who spoke second, said Mr. Masters had told jurors that Mrs. Seymour had the right to be in a hotel with another man and Mr. Seymour had no right to be there to discover where his wife was. “Mr. Masters says Mr. Seymour had no right to look for his wife… I disagree,” he declared.
A man has a right to protect his house and wife and children, Mr. McField continued. “That’s an example of the different cultural values people bring.”
He quoted from the 2009 Constitution about the people of the Cayman Islands affirming their intention to be “a country in which religion finds its expression in moral living and social justice.” He said Mr. Seymour had every right to be at the hotel to protect his wife; he had a right to see what she was doing.
Mr. McField said Mr. Seymour was sitting in the dock as a victim while Mr. Yap came and went, sleeping in his house and driving around in the Benz that Mr. Seymour has to pay for. The Immigration Law provides for the deportation of an undesirable person, Mr. McField pointed out, and in his opinion Mr. Yap fit into that category. That section of the law protects Cayman’s cultural, constitutional and Christian heritage, the attorney said.
Mr. McField analysed the charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. He commented on reasonable doubt and asked jurors to use their good old Caymanian common sense.
Jurors had a right to look at the security guard’s evidence with a high degree of suspicion, Mr. McField said. Mr. Bowen had a fear of losing his work permit; he did not have a fear of Mr. Seymour, the attorney argued.
He said Mr. Seymour was in court for loving, caring and trying to protect his family. His home was his castle, his wife was his sacred vessel. He tried to keep that home together.
But even if Mr. Seymour’s story sounded ridiculous or slightly incredible, it didn’t matter because the burden was on the Prosecution to prove their case and they had not discharged that burden, Mr. McField concluded.