Charges were dismissed Tuesday against a couple who had appeared before court 22 times over three years in relation to a driving offense and related charges of attempts to obstruct justice.
Shawn Abshire Bodden, a sergeant with the Marine Unit of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, was convicted, fined and disqualified from driving in 2015 after being found guilty of driving without insurance. He maintained that he was insured under a policy that covers an officer on police business, but could not produce a document saying so. He had been stopped on his way to the marine base to repair a marine unit vessel in 2013.
He and his wife Ruth Ann Bodden were charged in 2014 for attempting to obstruct, prevent, pervert or defeat the course of justice in his trial.
“I can only apologize on behalf of the system for this great inconvenience that has happened in your life for the past three years,” Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez said on Tuesday before she dismissed the charges.
The obstruction charge had been set down for trial, with Tuesday as the final date, but defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene said the Crown had reviewed documents sent to them and would be offering no evidence because documents pertaining to Mr. Bodden being covered by insurance were correct. Senior Crown counsel Candia James had spoken to Deputy Commissioner Kurt Walton about the matter, the attorney said.
The magistrate asked if it had taken three years for the authorities to find out what the insurance policy was. Ms. Fosuhene replied that the government department that held the document had eventually provided a copy.
“Officer Walton was the first officer to do anything about it,” she said. “So, yes – three years.”
Ms. Fosuhene added that some of the police officers she had spoken to had been not only unhelpful but rude: one had insisted there was no such policy; another had put the phone down on her.
“The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions went back to them time and time again at my behest,” she said.
Ms. Fosuhene explained that Mr. Bodden’s copy of the insurance policy was on his computer at work, but he did not have access to it. He had been suspended from duty in May 2014.
She noted that Mr. Bodden will have to go to the Court of Appeal to get his driving conviction quashed.
Details of the obstruction charge were that the defendants caused information relating to the motor insurance policy obtained from a named company, which they knew or believed to be false, to be submitted to the prosecutor in a bid to prevent prosecution for the offense of driving without insurance.
Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson confirmed that in light of the new information, the outcome of the earlier trial and the age of the matter, the Crown would be offering no evidence. The magistrate replied, “Really because there is no evidence.”
She said that the Boddens had had the situation hanging over their heads since 2013 and had been coming to court since 2014, “and all this time the police did not know their own policy?”
The magistrate said it was shocking that a document was not known to senior officers: “I cannot begin to express the unsatisfactory manner in which this has been handled. I have no words. This case is dismissed.”
After court adjourned, Ms. Fosuhene said she would write to the Commissioner of Police to ask that Mr. Bodden be reinstated.