Consultant convicted again of overstaying

Joseph Bonsu-Akoto overstayed in 2013 after conviction for overstaying 2009-2011

A former government consultant was found guilty last week of overstaying, his second conviction for the same type of offense. Joseph Bonsu-Akoto gave immediate notice of appeal, calling the proceedings against him ridiculous, a mockery of the judicial system, malfeasance and a perjury. 

“If I was a white man, they would have come to my house and given me status for all I have done for this country,” he asserted. 

Mr. Bonsu-Akoto’s resumé shows that he was born in Ghana and acquired Canadian citizenship after moving to Canada as a teenager. He came to Cayman from Jamaica. 

Magistrate Grace Donalds, in delivering her verdict, noted that Mr. Bonsu-Akoto apparently believed the charge against him was motivated by racial prejudice, but that was rejected by the court. 

She found him guilty of the charge of overstaying from May 21, 2013, until August 15, 2013, and fined him $750 or two months’ imprisonment in lieu of payment. 

The evidence was that on May 7, 2013, the chief immigration officer gave him a final extension of a right to remain in order to facilitate his departure by May 21, 2013. During that time, he failed to make any application for an extension or update of his passport. After May 21, he failed to keep his passport regularized. He was interviewed and charged on August 15. 

Mr. Bonsu-Akoto had been fined $5,000 by Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn in February 2013 after she found him guilty of overstaying between September 25, 2009, and September 16, 2011. He was given six months to pay; one of his arguments about the second overstaying charge was that he could not leave Cayman during those six months or he would have been a fugitive. Earlier this month his appeal to the Grand Court was dismissed. 

In his second trial, he argued that he should not have been charged for the same offense twice, since he had never left Cayman since September 2009. 

After receiving the verdict against him last week, he told the court he had been working for government, but he had not been paid. He suggested that the overstaying charge had been brought against him because “they’re just afraid I’m going to sue.” 

He cited some of his projects, including working for the health system. On Sept. 16, 2011, the same day he was charged, the Cayman government had begged him to reply to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about economic and finance problems, he said. 

The Crown did not deny that Mr. Bonsu-Akoto had done work for the Ministry of Health at some point.  

The defendant also disagreed with the magistrate that he had not done anything to regularize his situation with immigration. He began to tell her what he had done on such dates as May 29. The magistrate asked if May 29 came after May 21. He began going into detail about how he was at immigration all day and then was told to get a letter – until court marshal Cloden Douglas interrupted him: “The magistrate asked you a question. Answer her,” he directed. 

Mr. Bonsu-Akoto agreed that May 29 came after May 21. He went on to point out that he is married to a Caymanian. Spouses of Caymanians may apply for a Residency and Employment Right Certificate, but he indicated he did not want to involve his wife and would rather get a work permit on his own. 

He criticized Crown Counsel Neil Kumar for not doing his duty to help a defendant who is not represented by an attorney. 

He told the magistrate she was a very intelligent woman, but she was aiding and abetting the situation. His final remark to her was, “Don’t dance to the status quo. Otherwise you will lose your soul in heaven.” 

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