Woman charged following house fire

Arson charge transmitted to Grand Court

Shaneeke Julanie Wellington appeared in Summary Court in Grand Cayman on Wednesday afternoon charged with arson following a house fire on Oakmill Street in George Town early Sunday morning.

Wellington, 18, allegedly poured a bottle of rum on a mattress where there were clothes, bedding and tissue paper, then dropped a lit lighter on the bed, closed the door and left.

Chief Magistrate Nova Hall asked the extent of damage. Crown Counsel Tricia Hutchinson, who outlined the background to the charge, said everything in the room had been consumed by flames. Other persons had to vacate the premises, leaving valuable things behind. “While it appears that the whole structure is not burnt to the ground, certainly a part is,” she told the court.

Ms Hutchinson objected to bail. She indicated that Wellington was related by marriage to a number of people affected by the matter and the Crown wanted all statements completed.

Defence attorney Morris Garcia said strict conditions could allay any concern about possible contact with witnesses. He was not aware of any previous convictions and described his client as “not high-risk for fleeing the jurisdiction.”

The magistrate said arson is a serious charge and, based on what the Crown had indicated, there seemed to be a strong case. Since the law required her to send the case to Grand Court immediately, she was not minded to make a formal ruling on the question of bail.

She said she would transmit the matter to Grand Court for Friday, 29 June. At that point, Wellington would have the right to make a full and fresh application for bail. Until then, she was remanded to the women’s prison 
facility at Fairbanks.

Details of the charge state that, without lawful excuse, Wellington damaged a dwelling house and contents by setting fire to it, intending by destruction or damage to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would be endangered.

A news release issued by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service indicated that police and fire fighters responded about 3.20am to a report received.