The trial of senior immigration officer Jeannie Lewis did not go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday, Nov. 22. An abuse of process argument has been scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 12.
Lewis is charged with knowingly assisting a person to land (remain) in the Cayman Islands without permission and permitting a premises to be used for the consumption of controlled drugs.
The charges were laid after a pre-dawn raid at the defendant’s residence on Aug. 25, 2016. She was arrested along with her two sons, the girlfriend of one of the sons, and a Bahamian national who turned out to be an illegal lander.
Lewis first appeared in court on Nov. 29, 2016. She pleaded not guilty on Dec. 15 and trial was set for June 15. The matter could not go ahead on that day and Lewis appeared in court two more times before the Nov. 22 date was set.
On that date, defense attorney Richard Barton told Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn that he had received the statement of the investigating officer just 48 hours earlier. The statements of two other officers still had not been received, he said.
Mr. Barton noted that disclosure had been ordered during a previous appearance. He said it escaped him as to why the statement of the officer who was “intimately involved” in the matter would not have been at the top of the bundle of evidence provided to him by the Crown.
He advised the court that he and his client had met last week to prepare for the trial and they did not consider the issues that they were subsequently faced with. He said he did not want to remove the possibility of arguing that there had been an abuse of the court process.
Crown counsel Scott Wainwright said he was not opposing any application for an adjournment. He submitted that there was no abuse of process if the defense were given time to consider the contents of the statements.
He said the statements of the other two officers would be served that day and a trial could be set for March.
Mr. Barton in reply said the delay of 16 months was self-evident and could not be explained away and the defendant could no longer get a fair trial. He had not seen the statements of the other two officers and could not know if they would be beneficial to his client. He said Mr. Wainwright could apply for an adjournment if he wished to do so, but the defense was ready.
The magistrate adjourned the matter briefly in order to deal with other cases on her list for the day. When she returned to this case, Mr. Barton said that he and Mr. Wainwright were asking for a date to argue whether abuse of process had occurred. On that date, he suggested, the court could then “set a trial date or let Ms. Lewis go home.” The magistrate set the matter for Tuesday, Dec. 12.
Mr. Barton is to submit his arguments and authorities by Dec. 1 and the Crown is to respond by Dec. 8, with the court receiving copies that same day.
The magistrate extended Lewis’s bail until Dec. 12.
After her first appearance in court on these charges, the acting chief immigration officer confirmed that Lewis had been placed on required leave – suspended with pay – since her arrest.
The illegal lander, Anthony Bullard, was dealt with in Summary Court last year. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 30 days’ imprisonment and deported.
One of Lewis’s sons was charged with possession of a firearm found on the premises. A jury found him not guilty after hearing that a DNA profile found on the gun and ammunition inside did not match anyone in the house except Bullard, and by the time that DNA information was received, Bullard had been deported.