Senior immigration officer Garfield (Gary) Wong told the court on Wednesday that the police officer who gave evidence in his trial about a breathalyzer test was not the officer who administered the test to him after his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Mr. Wong was giving his account of what happened after his Dodge Ram truck was in an accident with a BMW car in the early hours of Dec. 28, 2013 along Shamrock Road in the vicinity of Hibiscus Gardens. He was subsequently charged with careless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and driving under the influence of alcohol, with a blood/alcohol reading of 0.184 percent. The legal limit in Cayman is .100 percent.
When the trial began in January 2017, reference was made to an accident reconstructionist’s report that indicated Mr. Wong was not at fault because the BMW, coming from the other direction, had crossed the center line.
On Wednesday, questioned by defense attorney Dennis Brady and Crown counsel Scott Wainwright, Mr. Wong said he was taken to the Bodden Town Police Station after being arrested on suspicion of DUI. He was in a room with the Intoxilyzer machine and an officer identified himself, then set up the machine. He said he sat with the officer for more than 20 minutes, which was the required observation time before testing, and they had several conversations.
He said he was shown the printout from the machine with his name on it and the officer’s name stating that he was certified in the use of the machine.
He also asserted that there was no one else in the room during the test, not even the officer who had signed as being witness to the test.
During his trial, when he saw another officer go into the witness box, he did not know why that officer was there. When the officer identified himself as the one who had conducted the Intoxilyzer test, Mr. Wong said, he realized this was not so because he knew the tester’s face even though he did not know his name.
“So you saw [the officer] give evidence here that it was he who undertook the breath test?” Mr. Brady asked.
“Yes, sir,” Mr. Wong replied.
“Was he telling the truth?” the attorney asked.
“No, he was not, sir,” Mr. Wong replied.
Mr. Wainwright pointed out that this was never put to the officer while he was giving evidence.
Mr. Wong said he had recognized the testing officer’s face because that man had come to the Immigration Office several times to speak to someone there. After court adjourned that day, he had phoned that staff member and learned the officer’s name.
Over the next few days, he said, he submitted a Freedom of Information request to obtain information about three officers’ whereabouts on the night he was arrested. The request was refused.
Mr. Wainwright said he was not sure how the information would help Mr. Wong’s case.
Mr. Brady said he had requested CCTV footage from the Bodden Town station to determine which officers were there that night, but he had not received it.
Later, Mr. Wainwright asked for more details about how the accident had occurred. Mr. Wong agreed he had said that his cellphone dropped to the floor, he checked traffic both ways and then bent down to pick up the phone. He said it was correct that he did not know he had hit a vehicle and he did not see it because he was looking down at the phone.
“So you had taken your eye off the road?” Mr. Wainwright asked.
“Correct,” Mr. Wong replied.
“Would you agree that’s careless driving?” Mr. Wainwright asked.
“No,” the defendant replied.
He denied feeling any impact, saying he only heard a thud, which he thought was the result of a pothole or a road marker.
He was asked to look at photos of both vehicles.
“It’s not a little fender bender, is it?” Mr. Wainwright asked.
Mr. Wong agreed it was not. Told that the BMW was a write-off, Mr. Wong said he was still driving his same vehicle; repairs had cost him $1,500 and that included a new tire and rim.
He was questioned further about his evidence that the officer who told the court about the breath test was not the officer who administered the test. Mr. Wong said he did not immediately alert his attorney because he was shocked and did not want to put the Crown and police on guard “so another story could be concocted.”
Questioned about the appearance of the officer who tested him and the officer who gave evidence of it in court, he said he could not possibly mistake one for the other.
After Mr. Wong’s evidence concluded, Mr. Brady told Magistrate Grace Donalds that he would be calling two defense witnesses. One was the 911 officer who produced a report from the night of Mr. Wong’s arrest. He asked that a summons be issued for the police officer whom Mr. Wong identified as being the one who gave him the Intoxilyzer test.
The magistrate’s next available date for resuming the trial when both attorneys could be present was Tuesday, Feb. 13. Mr. Wong’s bail was extended until then.