Charge can be dealt with only in Grand Court, so defendant does not enter plea
A ex-employee of the Caribbean Club appeared in court Friday on a charge of calling in a fake bomb threat to his former employer that led to the evacuation of two buildings on Seven Mile Beach.
James Bernie Williams, 53, appeared in Summary Court charged with causing a bomb hoax.
Crown Counsel Kaya Ball said the hoax phone call was made to 911 on Dec. 14. The caller said there were two bombs – one at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman and one at Caribbean Club – and he intended to detonate them soon.
Police and firemen attended both scenes and checks were made. No bombs were found and, after two hours, guests were allowed to return.
Ms Ball said the hoax call had resulted in the evacuation of approximately 800 guests and staff members at the Ritz Carlton and 140 people at the Caribbean Club, where a wedding ceremony was taking place.
She advised the court that Williams, 53, had at some stage been employed at the Caribbean Club and had been dismissed or lost his employment.
Because causing a bomb hoax is a charge that can be dealt with only in Grand Court, Magistrate Valdis Foldats transmitted the matter to the higher court where it will be mentioned on Jan. 6. No plea was entered in this first hearing.
Details of the charge allege that Williams “communicated information that was false with the intention of inducing another person to believe that a bomb or other item likely to explode or ignite was present at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Caribbean Club Hotel here within the Cayman Islands.”
Defense attorney John Furniss asked for bail, explaining that Williams cared for his 80-year-old mother and he needed a couple of days to make arrangements with other family members.
Ms Ball said she would not object if there were strict conditions. Among those conditions are a requirement for Williams not to consume or possess alcohol, not to enter any liquor-licensed premises, observe a curfew at a specified West Bay residence from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and attend the hospital withdrawal management unit on Dec. 27. He is not to go within 50 yards of either the Caribbean Club or Ritz-Carlton.
The magistrate said bail could be granted because Williams was a mature individual who had no criminal record other than a conviction for littering. He warned that each bail condition had to be obeyed to the letter. If Williams is accepted at the withdrawal management unit, he is to obey the rules there, the magistrate emphasized.
Informal records kept by the Caymanian Compass indicate there have been at least three court cases involving bomb hoaxes. In what may be the most recent, a Cayman Brac man was placed on probation in 2007 after he spent two months in custody for calling the George Town police station and claiming that a bomb had been placed under a car in the station parking lot. The station was evacuated as a result. That defendant was 62 at the time and said he had been drinking.
The Penal Code sets put the maximum penalty on conviction: a fine of $10,000 and 10 years imprisonment.