Friends of a supermarket manager who left the island facing charges of dishonesty have been ordered to pay a total of $22,500 after he failed to show up for a court appearance.
The three men acted as sureties for Craig Gaskill, a manager at Kirk Market, who was given permission to leave the island to visit his ill father, while on bail facing charges of obtaining by deception.
Justice Malcolm Swift said he sympathized with the men, who had acted out of friendship, but he said the court had allowed Gaskill to travel on the basis of their guarantees that he would return.
“Mr. Gaskill has cynically taken advantage of his friends and their efforts to assist him,” he said, as he ordered the three men to pay up within 28 days.
During a brief hearing Thursday, Mark Hennings, who put up a $5,000 surety as guarantee that Gaskill would return to face the charges, claimed his friend had been forced off the island after doing good work for the supermarket.
He said, “It appears they have trumped up these charges using the police, the DPP, yourself, to run this man off the island. It is not something that hasn’t happened before in Cayman.
“I ask Your Honor not to perpetuate this injustice and make three Caymanians lose a lot of money.”
Ben Webster, who also put up a $5,000 surety, said he and his family had already suffered financially from helping out Gaskill. He said the supermarket manager had done great work to transform Kirk Market physically and reputationally during his time on the island, but he had lost everything after his arrest.
Though Gaskill is legally considered innocent until proven guilty, Mr. Webster said the arrest had prevented him from getting another job and effectively made him unemployable in the Cayman Islands and reliant on charity from his friends as he waited to face trial.
One of the charges Gaskill faces alleges obtaining $509,975.50 between March 11, 2013, and Nov. 5, 2015, by falsely representing that he had a master’s degree in business administration. The second charge is that he obtained property worth $34,315.54 between April 6, 2014, and Nov. 5, 2015, by falsely representing that he was authorized to buy the property with a corporate credit card.
His bail conditions were varied to allow him to leave the island on the condition that he provide his travel itinerary, provide three sureties totaling $22,500, return his passport by June 9 and answer his bail on June 10.
Thursday morning’s hearing was ordered after his failure to show on June 10 to allow the three men who stood as sureties to make submissions to the court on why they should not have to sacrifice the funds.
Mr. Webster said Gaskill had lost his house and family as a result of the charges and had been totally reliant on his friends who had already suffered financially to help him.
He said, “I provided him room and board and allowance for several months. This has already taken an incredible toll on my family and finances. These are funds I can ill afford. At the time in supporting Craig, it was done in good will and friendship.”
Michael Myles, who put up $12,500 surety, said he could make no excuses on behalf of Gaskill, who he said he had implored to return for his court date.
He said he had acted to help a friend, who he understood needed to return home to visit his father. He said he understood Gaskill’s father was seriously ill and he wanted him to have the opportunity, if it came to it, to say goodbye.
He said, “I had no knowledge that he would not return. I saw a man that was struggling and took the opportunity to help my fellow man. I put up a large amount of money that I don’t have on the basis of trust.” He said he had also done what he could to support Gaskill. “He didn’t qualify for welfare, he was homeless and couldn’t get a job. The level of support he had was me, Mark and Ben.”
He added that he made no excuses for Gaskill’s failure to return and did not seek to make any comment on his guilt or innocence on the charges.