Illegal lander found in immigration officer’s home sentenced to 30 days

A man found in the home of a senior immigration officer was sentenced on Monday to 30 days imprisonment for illegal landing.

Antonio Bullard, 30, pleaded guilty to landing in Cayman on or before Aug. 25, the day he was found at a Savannah residence with two other men and two women.

One of the women was the immigration officer. Few details of the circumstances of Bullard’s arrest were aired in Summary Court at the sentencing hearing.

Crown counsel Darlene Oko began her summary of the facts by explaining that a man in Prospect was watching TV on Aug. 21 when he heard a number of shots outside.

Magistrate Valdis Foldats noted that Bullard was charged only with illegal landing and asked whether there was a direct connection. Told no, he suggested that “There was an incident that required police attention …”

Ms. Oko adopted this opening and continued that as a result of a report to police, a search warrant was executed at a residence in Savannah on Aug. 25 and Bullard was located. There was an investigation as to whether he had status on the island and it was found that he did not.

He told authorities he had been working on a fishing boat from Jamaica and was caught in bad weather. He drifted to Cayman and swam to shore. He begged for food and water on the street and slept in a truck near the shore. Bullard said he met someone he had known in Jamaica and was taken to the house where he was found.

A police report issued at the time was not referred to in court. It stated that the senior immigration officer was accused of harboring an illegal immigrant. It also indicated that a firearm had been recovered at the house along with ammunition and a small quantity of ganja.

Since then, one of the men arrested has been charged and is before the court for possession of an unlicensed firearm and possession of ganja. As of Wednesday, there was no indication that any charge had been filed against the immigration officer.

Attorney Dennis Brady spoke for Bullard on Monday. He explained that the defendant is Bahamian, but had gone to Jamaica to seek work and had lived there for some time. Recently, he had joined a fishing vessel of a size that sends out smaller boats while it remains anchored as a “mother ship.” When the bad weather came up, Bullard was unable to communicate with the mother ship and he drifted to Cayman.

Mr. Brady said Bullard was trying to avoid a deportation reputation, so he was hoping to leave Cayman as quietly as he had come.

The magistrate said he did not think Bullard would be in trouble if he had gone to police or immigration authorities and explained what happened.

Mr. Brady replied that Bullard recognized that now.

The defendant had pleaded guilty on Aug. 29, but the Crown had evidence that there was an outstanding warrant for Bullard’s arrest in the Bahamas, but it was not clear what the warrant was for. Sentencing was delayed until that question was clarified.

On Monday, Mr. Brady explained that warrant concerned an incident in which Bullard had been with friends who borrowed and returned a boat belonging to a relative of one of the friends. He said efforts were being made to get Bullard’s passport from Jamaica so that he could make his way to the Bahamas to straighten out that matter.

The magistrate said that if a person comes to Cayman by accident, he or she should go to the authorities. “When you start to hide, you commit an offense,” he said.

He pointed out that there must be a deterrent sentence so that Cayman borders are not breached. He imposed the 30-day term of imprisonment and gave credit for time already in custody.