Bodden Town MLA Dwayne Seymour was found not guilty Friday of the charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The five men and two women empanelled to hear the case were in the jury room for 40 minutes before a court marshal indicated that they had reached a verdict. The foreman confirmed it was unanimous.
In his directions to the jury that morning, Justice Algernon Smith explained the indictment that had brought Mr. Seymour to court. He agreed with Senior Crown Counsel John Masters and Defence Attorney Steve McField that the circumstances in which the alleged offence occurred might help the jury determine guilt or innocence. But he said there were certain things that were completely irrelevant and jurors were to disregard them. (See story on page 9.)
The charge against Mr. Seymour was that on 1 May, 2010, he did an act in order to obstruct, pervert, prevent or defeat the course of justice – specifically, that he attempted to dissuade hotel security guard Adrian Bowen from providing evidence of a potential offence by saying, “Security, you nuh see nuttin.”
The charge was based on an incident that occurred outside the Grand Cayman Beach Suites after Mr. Seymour said he had received information that his wife might be there with a male friend who had arrived on the Island that day. There was an altercation between him and the visitor, Garrone Yap, after which it was alleged that Mr. Seymour made the remark.
Justice Smith summarised that to Mr. Bowen the remark meant, “If I don’t see anything, I can’t say anything.” His concern was that anything could happen to his job or his life. He was on work permit and “you don’t know who have ties.” The judge explained that the offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice is doing some act that has a tendency or is intended to pervert the course of justice. The prosecution must prove either an intent to pervert the course of justice or an attempt to do something which, if achieved, would pervert the course of justice.
The course of justice relates to judicial proceedings whether or not they have been instituted but are within the contemplation of the wrongdoer whose conduct was designed to affect the outcome of those proceedings. Whether the conduct has a tendency to pervert the course of justice does not depend on whether any investigation of the matter began, the judge said. Even if a police inquiry shows no offence was committed, that inquiry is part of the administration of justice, he emphasised.
Mr. Seymour gave evidence and denied saying the words.
If his evidence convinced jurors of his innocence, they were to acquit him. If his evidence left them in doubt, they were to acquit him. If jurors rejected Mr. Seymour’s evidence, they could not convict him on that alone, the judge instructed; they had to go back to the prosecution’s case.
If they rejected the evidence of the security guard, they should acquit. If they had a doubt, they should acquit. But if they accepted the guard’s evidence they should go on to ask themselves, did the remark have a tendency to defeat the course of justice. If they said no, or were in doubt, they would have to acquit.
If they said yes, the remark did have that tendency, they could not convict on that alone – they had to ask, did Mr. Seymour intend the remark to have that tendency.
“It is only if you are sure he intended it to have that tendency that you may convict,” the judge concluded.