Immigration officer charged in fatal wreck loses job

A Cayman Islands immigration officer who pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and to leaving the scene of an accident without reasonable excuse has been fired.

According to a statement released Thursday by the government Ministry of Home Affairs: “The ministry … can confirm that Mr. Nicholas Tibbetts was advised in writing on Jan. 24, 2017 that his employment as an immigration officer was terminated with immediate effect.”

Mr. Tibbetts had been on required leave (paid suspension) since May 2015, following his arrest in the April 23, 2015 crash that killed bicyclist Donnie Ray Connor, 59, along the Linford Pierson Highway.

In July 2016, Mr. Tibbetts pleaded guilty to causing Mr. Connor’s death by careless driving during the early morning incident, which he has told the court he cannot remember. He received a sentence of three-and-a-half months over the incident, with his attorney noting that he had been wearing an electronic monitor for about 19 months following his arrest.

Government officials said in July that Tibbetts would remain on paid leave until the court case against him finishes. “Following the conclusion of the court proceedings, a decision will be taken with respect to Mr. Tibbetts’s employment with the Department of Immigration,” said Ministry of Home Affairs Acting Deputy Chief Officer Michael Ebanks.

However, court matters regarding Mr. Tibbetts were not yet ended. Earlier this month, he appeared before the Traffic Court, to face the leaving the scene of an accident charge. The presiding magistrate, Adam Roberts, told the Crown the decision to proceed with this matter was “ridiculous.”

Tibbetts received an absolute discharge in the matter, meaning that while the court views it is not expedient that the person involved should face punishment, the conviction would remain on the offender’s record. Tibbetts had already completed serving his Grand Court sentence in the fatal crash before he appeared in Traffic Court this month.

The immigration officer was one of 31 Cayman Islands civil servants identified by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson in June as being on required leave.

Typically, longer periods of suspension from the civil service involve matters before the court, Mr. Manderson said. The longest such case he was aware of had been ongoing for about four years. Mr. Manderson said, if convicted of a crime or of a serious administrative violation, civil servants can be “separated” – terminated – from the government.