Lack of “public interest” cited in case
The former head of a Grand Cayman retirement home who was once accused of taking more than $300,000 from the charity will not face prosecution, according to public safety officials and the leadership at The Pines.
“The directors and management of The Pines wish to express their disappointment that the director of public prosecutions has determined not to prosecute its former manager, Sue Nicholson, in connection with the theft of goods and services from The Pines,” a statement The Pines sent to the Cayman Compass late Friday indicated.
Pines Chairman Julian Reddyhough said in 2013 that the board had conducted its own forensic investigation and discovered “several hundred thousand dollars over an eight year period” had been taken.
The cash, including interest, was restored to the charity by Ms. Nicholson’s then-husband “without any admission of wrong-doing,” according to Mr. Reddyhough’s statement from December 2013.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service informed The Pines management last month that charges would not be pursued in the case, and that Ms. Nicholson was now back in the U.K. She could not be reached for comment by press time.
According to correspondence sent to The Pines from RCIPS Detective Sergeant Claire Jackson: “If we were to lay charges, we would have to seek her extradition to stand trial, in circumstances whereby [The] Pines [has] received in excess of what the prosecution can prove she stole.”
“It is not in the public interest to charge her and seek her extradition,” the statement continued. “The position may well have been different if no money had been repaid and she had assets that we could restrain with a view to confiscate if convicted.”
Mr. Reddyhough responded to the police correspondence on Sept. 8, acknowledging that the final decision to charge individuals in such matters does not lie with the police, but that The Pines board members were nonetheless “dismayed” by the ruling and “the policy behind it.”
“The message this sends is that if your financial crime is discovered, then if you pay back what you have stolen and leave the jurisdiction, you will not be prosecuted,” Mr. Reddyhough’s Sept. 8 letter to police said.
The Pines board members also questioned why it took more than two years since it made the formal complaint to police to reach a decision in the investigation in which staff members had been “tied up” in preparing reports and statements.
The RCIPS indicated Monday that it had no further comments on the matter and the public prosecutions office had not responded to requests for comment from the newspaper by press time.
Since the revelations regarding the missing money, The Pines board has hired a new manager and has taken steps to prevent the recurrence of such an event, Mr. Reddyhough said, including anti-fraud training for staff members and periodic spot-check audits of finances by the KPMG accounting firm.
“It is regrettable that a charity is forced to take these steps and, of course, no steps can provide 100 percent security against a person who is sufficiently motivated or cunning,” Mr. Reddyhough said.