Gratitude, concerns about financial security and sexual intimacy were themes repeated in diaries Michelle Bouchard kept from January 2010.
A Grand Court jury heard prosecuting counsel read extracts from the diaries on Tuesday and Wednesday. Bouchard has pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of theft alleging that she stole a total of CI$1.59 million and US$805,806 from Australian James Bruce Handford between May 2010 and October 2012. When the diaries begin, Bouchard is 49 and Mr. Handford is 82.
Bouchard’s first diary entry is for Jan. 5, 2010, in which she notes Mr. Handford has provided her with a calm oasis after she was let go from her job. “He has also provided financial stability I have always lacked. I am forever grateful to Jim for the safe haven.”
On Jan. 7, she says she needs to decide if she will begin a relationship with him. “I must be ready to leave the island if I do not want to commit to Jim.”
Four days later, she wonders, “Will Jim continue to support me if I do not have an intimate relationship with him?”
On June 30, 2010, she writes that her work permit application was “yanked,” so she wanted to apply to the law school for full-time student status.
On July 28, she writes that Mr. Handford “wants to have a sexual relationship with me, but he does not say what he will give me in return other than some form of room and board, which frankly isn’t enough to keep me in his life.” She says she wants some assurance of a good monthly income, financial security and enough to retire comfortably.
On Aug. 20, Bouchard prays, “God, if Jim and I are meant to be together make it so – I want to be able to feel secure …. Dear God, I need to thank you for bringing Jim into my life. He is a Godsend emotionally and financially.”
On Sept. 15, she says she would like to be his partner if he guarantees to support her and provide her with ample money every month and gifts at Christmas, her birthday and Valentine’s Day, like nice jewelry, trips and property. In return, she would manage his affairs, make sure his life is well managed and he will not be taken advantage of by others.
“Please make it so that we get married and I benefit from his fortune in order to secure my retirement,” she writes.
The next days she says she is afraid of being considered a gold digger. “But, honestly, if I do have sex with him, I want some serious compensation …. I also know that as long as we do not have sex I am in the only position of power I have available to me. Other than that he holds all the cards.”
On Sept. 30, she says Mr. Handford is like a guardian angel. “I like doing things for him – it makes me feel good. I also like making sure he is well taken care of by suppliers and traders …. God, I love being a designer but it’s now time to make some serious money …”
Having turned 50 in September, Bouchard writes on Oct. 3, “I am concerned about Jim’s health either mental or physical deteriorating and having my future needs not taken care of if I have no official standing in his life.”
On Oct. 9, she writes that she has decided to have Mr. Handford’s tenants deposit their rent money into her and Mr. Handford’s joint account, so she can monitor monthly payments and he can transfer the money into his personal accounts as he likes.
On Oct. 21, she says that Mr. Handford told her he deposited $100,000 so that she could have access to funds when she needs them. She really appreciated that and paid off her credit card balances.
While on a trip to South Africa with friends, she records receiving an email on Nov. 13 that her work permit has been granted and she starts Nov. 22 at 9 a.m.
On Nov. 14, she says, “I have to be grateful to Jim for paying for all this travel with the money he has put in our joint account.” The next day she says she wants Mr. Handford to donate $10,000 to the cause of the “big cats” at a wildlife reserve. “But how do I do that without telling him I was in South Africa?”
Back in Cayman with Mr. Handford, on Dec. 3, Bouchard writes, “I will stay here as long as I have access to funding my lifestyle. If he pulls the plug on the funding, then I have to find another reliable source of income.
“I am gorgeous, healthy, wealthy, stylish, smart, savvy and finally I am starting to respect myself enough not to give any old man my love and my body.” On Dec. 14, she reports that Mr. Handford is buying her a beautiful white gold and diamond watch worth about US$40,000.
On Dec. 28, she writes, “God, thank you for the talk Jim and I had. He tells me he will give me all his property in Cayman. I just need to know I will also have enough $ to support them until I sell them.”
On Jan. 3, 2011, she says, “I think my greatest fear is having a relationship with Jim and he will want sex all the time …. I can’t even imagine that he is good in bed. But who knows, he might. God, thank you for all that he has brought in my life.”
On Jan. 15, she says she wants Mr. Handford to purchase her a home that has one or two efficiency apartments that will bring on a monthly income. “If I get all these things, I will gladly be his girlfriend. Then I would propose that if we are both happy with our sex life, after three months we can get married and then I want a written guarantee that I will inherit his condo and boathouse and three office suites with 2 million cash to maintain it.”
In February, she says she has a sinking feeling that Mr. Handford is attracted to a named woman at a particular restaurant. She “knows for certain” that if this woman got her claws into him, “he would be married to her in no time.”
On May 8, she expresses frustration because she has asked Mr. Handford to borrow US$500,000 for a mortgage to purchase a home for herself. “Dear God, I have decided to stop waiting for Jim to help me and I will start to help myself and others and let you and the universe take care of me and my needs.”
Four days later, she tells God she is “super grateful” that she had the privilege to receive CI$500,000 “as a gift from Jim.” She indicates she will use the money to purchase rundown properties, fix them up and sell them at a profit.
Several entries in June indicate she has purchased a condo to upgrade.
On June 29, she writes, “I enjoy taking care of Jim’s properties. God, please see to it that I inherit all his Cayman properties …” On July 4, she writes, “God, please help me ensure that I get Jim to put all his assets into my name in his will so they become mine when he dies.”
On Aug. 21, she notes that Mr. Handford will be returning from Australia in two weeks and her freedom will come to an end. “My biggest fear is losing my power once I sleep with him.” She asks God to help her “pay this year’s tuition [for law school] before Jim gets back because I want to be fully paid up before his return in case I have to move out.”
On Sept. 1, she notes that Mr. Handford’s daughter, Susan van Dijk, “is getting her accountants involved with her father’s accounts so my days may be numbered if her dad’s bank records go back for a long time. I am pretty sure he will protect me from harm because I have legitimately been working my ass off taking care of all his properties and leases and tenants and what little I have been using for myself was discussed as needed to supplement my loss of income.”
On Oct. 30, she prays, “Dear God, please protect Jim from harm and keep him safe from his own drinking. He fell and cut his nose quite badly on the large glass table …. What’s interesting is that when he gets really drunk, he doesn’t remember what we argued about the night before, so I can just about say whatever I want to him and it doesn’t really matter.”
On Nov. 22, she writes, “Dear God, I believe that my gravy train has decided to leave the station. I really want to finish law school in Cayman. God, please help me to convince Jim to support me while I am a student for the next 2.5 years.”
On Dec. 4, she writes that Mr. Handford is trying to force her to have sex with him by cutting off any financial support she had from him. She says she has decided to put her condo up for sale. She asked him for $12,000 for living expenses and for some surgery she had discussed with him. “He did not have a check out for me, so there is a good possibility that the gravy train has come and gone.”
On Dec. 15, Bouchard writes, “Dear God, I realized yesterday for the very first time that I am officially a millionaire! That is so awesome. I had no idea, but given that I would need at least 10 times that to be able to retire once and for all – I still need to work hard and be frugal and keep my eye open for lucrative opportunities.”
On Jan. 28, 2012, she notes Mr. Handford’s chronic cough and says she is taking him to see a doctor.
On Feb. 6, she says, “I have to realize that I am very blessed to live rent- and expense-free and as long as he allows us to have a joint account where I can get funds for my living expenses that is great.”
On Feb. 18, Bouchard discovered that Mr. Handford had closed their joint account. She decided to tell his daughter that his mental decline was requiring serious attention and notes that “my income stream has been literally cut off.”
On Feb. 26 she wonders if God could convince Mr. Handford to give her $200,000 to finish law school.
On May 30, she writes that Mr. Handford’s daughter has requested the number of the joint bank account. “I have emailed the bank to remind them that the info is confidential …. I suspect that something is going on.”
While in Toronto on July 18, Bouchard writes that she has to make some cash transfers to her Canadian account from her Cayman accounts. “That will be my top priority to transfer funds up to here.”
On Aug. 15, she says, “I can see that Butterfield is becoming picky about my accounts with them, so I am going to transfer a large amount out to Scotiabank this week …. I understand they have to be careful, but I hate the tone of their emails, they are almost accusatory …. God, I hope they have all the info they require so they will leave me alone from now on.”
On Sept. 26, she notes that members of Mr. Handford’s family have arrived and are at the condo. She refers to “agreements we made a long time ago and when he committed to helping me become financially independent, I accepted his proposal and engagement. I don’t have a clue if he will remember this …”
On Sept. 27, she is making sure to pay all her school fees and all the money necessary to be able to live in Cayman for two years without income “just in case things turn sour while his daughter is here.”
Income stream cut off
The last diary entry is for Sept. 29, when Bouchard writes that she is in the process of finding out that her income stream from Mr. Handford is being cut off by his family. “I will definitely go peacefully if they promise to allow me to go without any complications to myself or my balances. Dear God, please protect me from any harm and allow me to benefit from Jim’s generosity towards me over the last few years without clawback, paybacks, or adverse consequences.”
The jury has already heard that Mr. Handford made a statement to police in October 2012, after which Bouchard was arrested.