Shoes trip up accused burglar

Goods valued at almost $9,000 stolen from restaurant

In Summary Court last week, Magistrate Valdis Foldats found George Patrick McFarlane guilty of burglary at the La Dolce Vita Restaurant in George Town in the early hours of 17 August, 2012. 

Evidence included closed-circuit television footage from the restaurant during the time of the break in. A police constable told the court he viewed the footage and recognised McFarlane, whom he had known for the past six years. 

In handing down his verdict, the magistrate said the officer’s recognition would by itself not be enough to convict, but when McFarlane was apprehended he was in possession of two bank cards which had been stolen during the burglary. 

Then when he was interviewed, he disclosed a location where other items were found and he told officers “the other culprit had the rest of the stuff”. 

Officers went to the location and found a pair of black sandal-type shoes similar to those seen being worn in the CCTV footage. When arrested, McFarlane was wearing a pair of white shoes that had been stolen during the burglary. 

The magistrate said, “It beggars belief to suggest that some other person burgled the premises, decided to take the white shoes … but then left them in a cache where they were stumbled on by the defendant, who for whatever reason was sufficiently attracted to them to switch his black shoes for the white ones and was fortunate they fit.” 

He concluded, “The presumption of innocence and the standard of proof do not mean that a court should be gullible.” 

Defence attorney Lucy Organ had argued that there were no fingerprints and no DNA evidence to tie McFarlane to the crime. The magistrate said there could be many reasons for such a lack, including the skill of the crime scene investigators and the nature of surfaces touched. The absences were not troubling in light of the other evidence, he indicated. 

Crown Counsel Nicole Petit conducted the case for the prosecution. 

Items reported stolen were one pair of white shoes, alcohol valued at $5,726.72, one safe containing $2,500; one bicycle valued at $2,500; a brief case and contents, valued at $150; and a table cloth valued at $20. Total value was $8,946.72.  

The matter first came to court days after the burglary. The second defendant, Joel Ernest Bodden, pleaded guilty immediately. Assisted by attorney John Furniss, he was dealt with under the Alternative Sentencing Law. Conditions for Bodden, 33, include a requirement that he attend and complete the Caribbean Haven Rehabilitation Treatment Centre programme. 

McFarlane, 42, has remained in custody since his arrest. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 7 February. 

Cayman Islands Courthouse - palm tree

The Law Courts Building in downtown George Town. – Photo: File
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