Syed seeks new attorney for theft charges

Former UCCI president advises court of medical concern

Hassan Syed, the former president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, appeared in Grand Court Friday when attorney James Austin-Smith applied to cease representing him. 

Syed, who is alleged to have used UCCI credit cards for personal transactions, was represented by Mr. Austin-Smith earlier this year when the attorney successfully arranged for the defendant to return to Cayman from Switzerland and remain on bail while awaiting trial. 

Charges include five counts of theft, three of obtaining a pecuniary advantage and seven of obtaining a money order by deception, dating from September 2006 to June 2008. The Crown did not object to bail at the time, based on doctors’ statements about Syed’s medical conditions. He was granted bail with a surety of $400,000 and cash security of $50,000, with residence and reporting requirements. He was also required to wear an electronic monitor. 

In June, a trial date was set for March 2, 2015, but no pleas were entered because the full indictment was not ready. November 28 was set as the date for entering pleas.  

On Friday, Mr. Austin-Smith told Justice Ingrid Mangatal that his application was for his firm, Campbells, to come off record in the matter. He said he had explained to Syed that he needed to move fast to acquire a new counsel. He said Syed had made significant attempts to do so, but had not been successful so far. 

The other matter addressed was the electronic monitor Syed wears as part of his bail conditions. Mr. Austin-Smith said Syed, 47, was unwell and needed an MRI test. However, that could not be done with the defendant wearing the ankle tag. He asked for the tag to be removed on a short-term basis. 

Crown counsel Laura Manson agreed that arrangements could be made administratively. She suggested that Syed get the date for the procedure and he would be accommodated. Mr. Austin-Smith said he was willing to assist with the matter. 

Charges include five counts of theft, three of obtaining a pecuniary advantage and seven of obtaining a money order by deception, dating from September 2006 to June 2008.