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.