CarePay trial: Potential new evidence delays trial

Testimony in the criminal trial of Caymanian businessman Canover Watson has been delayed for at least a day, possibly longer, after the discovery of potential new evidence in the case.

Grand Court Justice Michael Mettyear informed jurors Tuesday morning that the evidence consisted of information contained on seven USB computer memory sticks, often called “jump drives,” that were found in Watson’s office the day of his Aug. 28, 2014 arrest.

Information on the jump drives – literally thousands of separate computer files – initially were thought to have been lost, but have been recovered, the jury was told.

Mr. Mettyear informed the jury that attorneys requested additional time to review the information, and that the effort would take at least a day to complete. The court was scheduled to meet again Wednesday morning, but it was not certain whether testimony would resume at that time.

Issues regarding the whereabouts of the computer jump drives found in Watson’s office at the former Admiral Administration building were raised during the trial on Monday.

According to statements made in the trial, evidence obtained by Royal Cayman Islands Police investigators from the jump drives was retrieved and copied during searches of Watson’s business office on Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, 2014. Watson’s lead attorney Trevor Burke, QC, suggested Monday that the jump drives themselves had not been located.

Mr. Burke, during questioning of a Crown witness who examined the jump drives, elicited that the witness could not find those drives in a second search of Admiral Administration’s offices in July 2015. The attorney suggested that, aside from whatever was copied and preserved by police, other documentation on the drives had effectively been lost.

Some of those records, he suggested, may well have been used by Watson’s defense, even if police investigators and prosecutors had no use for them.

Both the IT director for the former Admiral Administration (now Maitland) and a Cayman Islands government computer forensics expert testified Monday that they did not know what had become of the jump drives.

The government computer forensics expert who testified, Anhill Carsana, said Monday that he was told the jump drives had been returned to Watson, but Mr. Burke said that was not the case.

It was not expressly stated during Tuesday’s proceedings how the other information contained on the seven jump drives had been recovered.

Watson, 45, faces six charges in relation to corruption offenses connected to the December 2010 award of a public hospital contract which the Crown alleges Watson directed as chairman of the Health Services Authority board of directors. Watson’s associate Jeffrey Webb is also charged with aiding and abetting Watson. Webb is not facing trial in the Cayman Islands.

Watson’s former personal assistant Miriam Rodriguez has also been charged with one count in relation to the case. Both Watson and Rodriguez have pleaded not guilty to all charges against them.

The prosecution’s case had been expected to end this week, with the defense opening its case by putting Watson on the stand on Jan. 11. However, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran said he could not confirm whether the earlier time line would hold, given Tuesday’s delays.