Court retains store manager’s passport

An application for the return of a defendant’s passport was refused on Thursday by Magistrate Grace Donalds.

She first heard from Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson, who objected to Craig Austin Gaskill getting his passport back on the basis that the defendant would leave Cayman and not return.

Gaskill is charged with obtaining property by deception and obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception while employed at Kirk Market as store manager.

Defense attorney Alice Carver said her client had no job, no home and no money. “He has had to live off the charity of friends,” she told the court.

Gaskill could provide local sureties up to a sum of $25,000. “That’s the degree of trust they have in him,” Ms. Carver said.

The defendant is a man of good character, she pointed out. Any conviction would affect him in any jurisdiction. The Crown could try him in his absence, so he has a real interest in coming back to defend himself, Ms. Carver said.

His family had had to leave the island because his wife’s income was not sufficient to support their children, the attorney continued. If Gaskill had his passport returned to him, he could join his family in the U.S. and work until he would be required to return to Cayman.

Ms. Carver submitted that the court had a balancing act in considering the circumstances in which Gaskill was living and his right to family life.

Mr. Ferguson explained that the charge of obtaining a pecuniary advantage related to a sum of $509,975.50. The alleged dishonesty was a misrepresentation that Gaskill had a master’s degree in business administration. In an interview with police, he gave a prepared statement in which he said he was pursuing a degree but did not follow through to completion and was doing a course online. But that was not what he said to the recruiting agency engaged to get a qualified and competent manager, Mr. Ferguson argued.

He added that the Crown had a statement from the school named by Gaskill; it said he never attended.

Ms. Carver told the court that the sum mentioned by Mr. Ferguson was not the sum the company had lost. The store’s profits had increased while Gaskill was manager, she said, and he had been filling two roles.

The charge of obtaining property by deception related to credit cards. Gaskill had been given two cards and he did not appreciate the difference between them, she said. The company’s loss was in the region of $35,000, but Gaskill never had the opportunity to face his employer or pay the money back, which he had been willing to do, Ms. Carver told the court.

The magistrate’s decision was that the passport would be retained, based on the nature and seriousness of the charges and the likelihood that Gaskill would fail to surrender.

Asked about a date for the matter to return to court, Mr. Ferguson exhibited a large binder filled with papers that needed to be copied for the defense. He indicated he could get the material to Ms. Carver by Tuesday. Counsel then agreed on March 16 for the next mention.

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