Former personal assistant to MLAs ‘orchestrated’ robbery

The former personal assistant to two George Town MLAs was found guilty on Wednesday of robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offense.

Christine Rae Smith was charged with three counts of robbery relating to an incident at Elegant Nails & More in George Town on the night of July 10, 2015. The three counts pertain to the co-owner and two women who were in the salon at the time. Rae Smith was also in the salon at the time. Two masked men dressed in black and carrying what appeared to be firearms entered and stole cellphones, jewelry and a total of $693 by means of putting the women in fear of being subjected to force.

During her trial last month, Rae Smith told the court that she did not help plan the armed robbery. She said she had gone into the salon earlier in the day and made an appointment for that evening; she maintained she also was a victim. She said she surrendered her watch, a cellphone and $50 to the robbers.

The trial was by judge alone, at the defendant’s request. In delivering his verdicts, Justice Charles Quin summarized the evidence and commented on Rae Smith’s previous good character. He said he found the women in the salon to be honest and reliable, while the defendant’s evidence had been vague, inconsistent and implausible. He detailed the 11 texts between Rae Smith and one of the robbers, Paul Myles, in the 12 or 13 minutes before the robbery took place. He said they showed that Rae Smith was orchestrating the robbery.

Almost every text said what Rae Smith did not intend, or didn’t say what she did intend, the judge commented. For example, one of her texts to Myles said that the laptop and iPad were in the reception desk. Rae Smith told the court that “in” was supposed to be “on” and she was insinuating that there was no debit card machine on the desk, so she would not be able to use her debit card to pay for having her hair braided. But the message never contained the word “debit.”

Another text, referring to locking the door from the inside, was interpreted by Rae Smith to refer to the passenger door on her truck, which Myles had borrowed. But the message did not contain the word “truck.”

The message, “I’ll give you the when,” was explained by Rae Smith as indicating that she would text Myles when he should come and pick her up. Anther message referred to two women leaving and five people still in the salon; Rae Smith said she was just expressing frustration at having to wait.

Justice Quin said Rae Smith was an educated and articulate businesswoman. She had worked as personal assistant to George Town MLAs Roy McTaggart and Winston Connolly. She had formed a company with Mr. Connolly. She had no previous convictions and was a woman of good character.

The judge said he had listened and watched as she gave evidence, which he found to be riddled with lies and unworthy of belief.

He praised the police officers investigating the matter, saying they had exercised great patience and diligence in chasing the phone evidence and putting it together. (One of the phones was found in a cistern.)

After the guilty verdicts, defense attorney Lee Halliday-Davis asked that Rae-Smith’s bail continue while a pre-sentence social inquiry report was prepared. Justice Quin said the matter was too serious and he remanded her in custody until Jan. 27.

The Crown’s case was presented by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran.

The two men who pleaded guilty to the robbery, Myles and Antonio Kelly, have not yet been sentenced.

In March this year, Cayman’s Labour Tribunal awarded Rae Smith $2,632 for unfair dismissal from her job with the MLA office. At the time, she said she declined to cash the check and accept the tribunal’s award because she believed she was owed more than $9,000 according to her employment contract.

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