A woman involved in a traffic accident “dug herself a deeper hole” by changing a date in her passport, attorney Dennis Brady said in Summary Court last week.
He was speaking on behalf of Dawn Ann-Marie Adams, who pleaded guilty to altering a temporary work permit stamp, working without a permit and overstaying.
Her total sentence was 30 days.
Senior Crown counsel Tricia Hutchinson said Adams, 41, was arrested on a traffic-related matter on Feb. 29. In March, a request was made by police to the Immigration Department to check her status on the island. It turned out she had been given until the end of April 2015 on a permit. However, her passport had been altered to show April 30, 2017.
Adams admitted altering the date as a result of being taken into custody on the traffic matter.
Mr. Brady described the situation as one of those classic cases of escalating problems getting out of control. He said Adams was a person of good character who had worked here for six years without incident. She had made efforts to do the right thing, submitting her papers to her last employer and being assured that they were being processed.
The alteration of the passport was an effort to appear legitimate, Mr. Brady said. In her interview, Adams had admitted, “I did it when the police stopped me the other day. I don’t know why. I just panic[ked].”
He asked for the mercy of the court. He explained that Adams had come to Cayman to try to assist three teenaged children and give them a better life than she had.
Since this incident, she has been living off the benevolence of people at her church because she had no earnings, Mr. Brady said. A sentence of custody would be a further burden on the state, he pointed out, although he agreed that the state does spend money in an effort to deter wrongdoing.
Adams has suffered the shame of sullying her previous good character, the attorney summarized: “She tried to extricate herself, but dug herself a deeper hole.”
Magistrate Valdis Foldats said general deterrence was certainly a factor. Adams did not need individual deterrence because the whole situation had brought home to her the seriousness of what she had done.
But he had to send a message to others who might be tempted to try altering their passport. Such actions have to be punished with jail because they affect the entire system of border control.
They also affect employment opportunities for Caymanians, he pointed out.
The magistrate imposed a sentence of 30 days for altering the passport stamp. Similar sentences for working without a permit and overstaying were made to run concurrently.