Iain Nigel MacKellar was granted bail in Grand Court on Friday afternoon as he awaits an extradition hearing on fraud charges later this month.
Conditions of his bail include a cash security of CI$5 million and a charge on his property at Rum Point to its full value, reported to be US$3.5 million. He is also to have a security guard 24 hours a day.
Bail had been denied in Summary Court twice and Mr. MacKellar, 60, had been in custody since his arrest on Dec. 15 last year.
Justice Michael Wood heard submissions on Thursday, April 12, after Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez gave reasons the previous day for refusing bail. She had heard arguments the previous week and adjourned the matter to give a written ruling.
At that adjournment, defense attorney James Austin-Smith asked if she would indicate her decision before releasing her reasons. Knowing the decision in advance gave him enough time to apply to argue an appeal, the court diary was able to accommodate the hearing, and the Crown had enough time to respond.
Justice Wood indicated that there was a presumption in favor of bail and the question of possible extradition was not a factor to be considered.
The Bail Law lists factors to be considered, such as the nature and seriousness of the charge, the defendant’s character and community ties, the strength of the evidence, and the defendant’s record regarding any previous grants of bail. Mr. MacKellar, a permanent resident in Cayman since 2007, has no previous convictions.
Mr. Austin-Smith had pointed out that Mr. MacKellar was not charged with murder, rape or armed robbery. He was accused of a financial crime in the U.S.
The basis of the appeal for bail was the defendant’s health. Both the magistrate and judge indicated that health issues were personal and private, and therefore not to be reported by the media.
Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards submitted on Thursday that there was no evidence that Mr. MacKellar’s health had been adversely affected because of his continued incarceration.
She maintained that he was a flight risk. She said men who had been charged along with him had cooperated with authorities and still received prison sentences. It was the Crown’s submission that there was a strong case that would result in Mr. MacKellar’s imprisonment in the U.S.
Mr. MacKellar was named with other people in an indictment issued in Texas in July 2015. The indictment alleges conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which involved a veterinarian product for fleas.
Mr. Austin-Smith said co-conspirators received sentences of 47, 36, 32 and 36 months.
Justice Wood said he would give his full reasons for granting bail in writing later.
In addition to the financial conditions, the judge said he was going to order Mr. MacKellar to wear an electronic ankle monitor, but he had learned earlier in the day that none was available. He therefore directed that security guards be engaged by the Crown, but paid for by Mr. MacKellar. The guards should be on eight-hour shifts to provide 24-hour-a-day coverage. They should have access to the grounds of Mr. MacKellar’s property. If he travels anywhere by car, he is to be accompanied by a guard.
Crown counsel Toyin Salako argued that if Mr. MacKellar were paying for his security, “it’s not really security.”
The judge explained that he was trying to “put a buffer between them,” referring to the defendant and the security guards, by having the Crown choose the security company. In the event of any violation, it is to be reported immediately to the officer in the case or to the Bodden Town Police Station.
Justice Wood said he was ordering the transfer of $5 million and $50,000 from Mr. MacKellar’s bank to the courts’ office. The $50,000 is to pay for the guards.
Mr. MacKellar, a U.K. citizen, had already surrendered his passport to police. On Friday, Mr. Austin-Smith surrendered the defendant’s second passport.
The final condition was for the defendant not to set foot on any plane or boat.
Since the bail decision was not given until after 2 p.m. on Friday, it was anticipated that all arrangements could not be put in place before Monday, April 16. Mr. Austin-Smith indicated that his client accepted that reality.
The extradition hearing is scheduled to start on Monday, April 30 and expected to last four days.
Compass reporter Spencer Fordin contributed to this story.