Unemployed man admits to taking 69 conch out of season

Defendant in immigration limbo, attorney tells court

A man who “wanted only food and shelter” admitted taking 69 conch and five lobster from Cayman waters during closed season, Chief Magistrate Nova Hall heard on Monday.

Ottis Johnson-Moore committed the offenses, including taking more than the daily limit, in September, 2015 – one week after being placed on probation for other offenses that had nothing to do with marine conservation.

Crown counsel Scott Wainwright said officers saw Moore carrying a mask and fins near a beach in East End. Because of previous dealings with him, they kept him under observation. When he approached a vehicle near the beach they spoke to him.

In the vehicle was a bucket with 69 shelled conch and five lobster. There was also a hammer and a kitchen knife.

Moore admitted having a hook stick, which was also in the vehicle. He said it took him one hour and 45 minutes to catch the marine life.

Moore told officers he needed money to pay his rent.

Defense attorney Dennis Brady said it was necessity that motivated this offending rather than any blatant disregard for the law. He explained that Moore’s immigration status was in limbo. He had claimed Caymanian status through his grandfather, but now that status was being challenged, with it being said that Moore was not biologically connected.

Moore was still able to get employment, but not consistently because when employers found out about his status uncertainty, they shied away, Mr. Brady said.

His client did not intend to flout the chance given to him when he received probation the first time, the attorney submitted. Moore wanted to secure the marine life for food and then sell the rest to pay his landlord. “He preferred to take the risk rather than become involved in any other offense such as theft. There was no one he could approach for a loan that would satisfy his debts.”

The magistrate ordered Moore to pay $500 for breach of the first probation order. She then extended that order for another six months and made a new order for 18 months probation, with the result that they will be partially concurrent.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.



  1. And how will he now pay the $500 fine?

    I remember going out on the N Sound 30 years ago with Captain Marvin and conch were so plentiful you could pick up dozens within minutes.
    Now you have to look hard to find even a few.

    Rather than poaching lobster and conch this guy should use his hunting skills to catch iguanas. People are paying $5-10 for each one caught. And it’s legal!

  2. Norman you are absolutely correct. However like many things, we have allowed them to get out of hand.
    The Cayman residence need to look to the courts and immigration for justice in this sort of behavior. Definitely that is too many conchs and lobsters, and his excuse is just out of this world.

  3. How do we expect the marine conservation Laws to work and be effective , when we have one part enforcing it and the other part not . Why would the Judge order probation , and not deportation , or prison time , and order him to pay $500. He can’t pay his rent , how do she expect him to pay court fine , go and poach more couch and lobsters . Then why wasn’t his car and equipment not ordered confiscation ? I think that the Laws says that can be .

    I think that this kind of action by Judges needs to stop , if we want to make sure that marine resources are protected by the Laws that are in place.

  4. When there is a law in existence, but a judge(s) systematically accepts excuses for breaking that law, is it a law or just a suggestion?
    Just on example, when a judge had accepted an excuse that the victim was a prostitute- my jaw literally dropped.