Judge: Conviction must follow escape from custody

Man on work permit asks for no conviction to be recorded

Escaping lawful custody is an offense that must be deterred with a conviction or else society will be in chaos, Magistrate Valdis Foldats told a defendant whose attorney had asked for no conviction to be recorded. 

Under the Alternative Sentencing Law and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Law, Mr. Foldats recorded a conviction but discharged it conditionally on the defendant entering into a recognizance in the sum of $500, with one surety, to keep the peace and be of good behavior.  

Kitson Tate, 25, had pleaded guilty to escaping lawful custody after being stopped at a traffic check on May 24.  

Crown Counsel Candia James said Tate complied with the officers’ signal to stop. He was driving a vehicle with an expired licence, expired certificate of road worthiness, and insurance that had expired in January 2012. He did not have a Cayman Islands driver’s licence.  

A further check revealed that he was not the registered owner of the vehicle, which resulted in a charge of taking a conveyance without authority. Tate was arrested and taken to the police station, where he ran away from the officer, but returned the next day. He was charged with escaping lawful custody. 

Defense attorney Dennis Brady said Tate, who is from Jamaica, had no experience interacting with law enforcement officers. When he was taken into custody, he asked the police what would happen to him. The officer replied that a judge would decide. 

Tate panicked, Mr. Brady told the court. He wrested his arm away and ran. Tate phoned his mother and told her what had happened. “She said, ‘You know what you have to do … Go now,’” Mr. Brady related, and Tate returned to the police station. 

He had been making payments to buy the car, but it was still in the registered owner’s name and Tate thought the insurance that had been in effect would cover him, Mr. Brady told the court.  

He described his client as being of impeccable character; everyone who knew him was taken aback by the charge. 

Tate was influenced by fright, not disrespect or contempt for the law, Mr. Brady summarized. A conviction would have repercussions that would adversely affect his continued employment as a landscaper, he said. 

He asked the court to consider not recording a conviction and he handed up precedents to show factors that had been taken into consideration – whether violence was used, how much pre-planning was involved, how long the escapee was absent, whether he was recaptured or turned himself in. 

After considering the matter over an adjournment, the magistrate told the defendant that Mr. Brady had fought for him very well. ”But there’s a bigger issue the court has to deal with – the general deterrence, sending a message to like-minded people who get themselves in a similar situation. It doesn’t matter that you’re a good person, that you are a responsible, productive person. This type of offense must have a conviction,” Mr. Foldats said. 

Escaping from custody is an affront to the administration of justice, he continued. “We have to expect that people in custody will abide by the rules. If people are running away through doors or down the street, we’ll have chaos,” he said. 

The magistrate thanked Tate for his early guilty plea and for cooperation with the probation officer preparing a report. He noted that a conviction for someone on work permit could have harsh consequences. 

For driving without insurance, he imposed a fine of $200 and one year’s disqualification from driving. Further fines were imposed for the other vehicle offenses, for a total of $475. The Crown did not proceed with the charge of taking a conveyance without authority. 

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