Alvin Oricho Harriott, 43, was fined $300 on Wednesday after pleading guilty to possession of a forged endorsement of an immigration stamp in his passport.
He told authorities he obtained the stamp through someone he knew “from a liquor store.”
Crown counsel Emma Hutchinson said Mr. Harriott was attempting to leave Cayman through Owen Roberts International Airport on Tuesday, July 24. The immigration officer processing him noticed that the stamp in his passport was irregular.
Ms. Hutchinson handed up to Magistrate Valdis Foldats a photocopy of a page from a passport. A genuine stamp showed that Mr. Harriott, a Jamaican national, had the right to remain in Cayman until June 28, 2018. On the same page was a stamp purporting to give permission to remain until July 22, 2018.
The magistrate, Ms. Hutchinson and defense attorney Dennis Brady agreed that the stamps being next to each other made it easy to see the differences.
Mr. Brady called the forgery “a partially good attempt” but noted that some of the words were missing.
The defendant maintained that he had met a “Mr. Johnson” at a liquor store and had given him $150 and the passport. When he received it back, it had the new endorsement in it.
Mr. Brady said the defendant was not a sophisticated man and there were people who preyed on those in Mr. Harriott’s circumstances.
He indicated that there is an area of George Town in which Jamaican nationals hang out after work, discuss issues and share information.
The magistrate said he thought any mature person would realize that speaking to someone in a liquor store was not the way to update a passport.
Mr. Brady replied that some people think there are “corrupt officials who can be approached …. I’m sure he had in his mind that Mr. Johnson knew someone who knew someone who knew someone.”
He urged the court not to impose a conviction, noting the defendant’s hitherto good character and his desire to come back to Cayman.
The magistrate said the offense was too serious for a conviction not to be recorded. He questioned whether it passed the custody threshold. After checking the Immigration Law, he determined that the maximum sentence under the general penalty section is one year. Given the variety of offenses covered by this section, he determined that a fine would be appropriate, setting the amount at $300.
Even on the false stamp, Mr. Harriott was guilty because he was leaving two days after its expiry date, the magistrate pointed out.