A man who changed a date in his passport was sentenced on Tuesday to four months’ imprisonment.
Keniel Anthony Simms, 35, admitted that he had altered his passport to show that he had permission to remain in the Cayman Islands until July 31, 2018. In fact, he had legal permission to remain until July 31, 2017.
Crown counsel Emma Hutchinson told Magistrate Valdis Foldats that Mr. Simms said he committed the offense because immigration authorities kept refusing him a work permit, but he needed to stay here for his children and girlfriend.
The defendant had been asked to attend the Immigration Department headquarters in July 2018 after the records system showed he had been overstaying since July 2017.
A Jamaican national, he had been in Cayman since 2004.
Defense attorney Dennis Brady said his client had acted “out of desperation” because he wanted to be part of his children’s lives, be available to them and provide for them. “This is a case of efforts made but rejected,” he submitted.
Although he did not have substantive proof of his assumption, Mr. Brady suggested that the welfare of the children might not have been considered when the work permit applications were dealt with.
The magistrate said he was not defending the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, but there was nothing to say that the fact of Mr. Simms being a family man had been ignored. He wondered how many applications had been made by someone who had served a prison term of 15 months for burglary and had previously been in court for assault and an immigration offense.
Records showed that Mr. Simms was sentenced in October 2016 to 15 months’ imprisonment for burglary, theft and attempted theft. In 2009, he was arrested for working without a permit and subsequently ordered to do community service for the offense. He later completed the men’s non-violence program after being charged with assault.
“Surely, the department balances family life with other aspects for consideration,” the magistrate said.
Mr. Brady told the court that his client had been in a relationship with a Caymanian woman since 2010 and they had two children together; they had married in July 2018. Mr. Simms also had an older child from a previous relationship.
“The thrust of my submission is on behalf of these children,” Mr. Brady told the court, citing section 17 of the Cayman Islands Constitution, which deals with the protection of children.
This section states that the legislature shall enact laws to provide every child with such facilities as would aid their growth and development and to ensure that every child has the right “to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment.”
The magistrate said Mr. Brady had done everything he could on behalf of the defendant, but the need to deter such offending overwhelmed other aspects of the case. He said he had to send the message that altering a passport was a serious matter.
The appropriate starting point would be six months, he noted; with one-third discount for the guilty plea, the sentence was four months.
The magistrate said he would leave Mr. Simms’s immigration status to the Immigration Department.