Crown concludes evidence in immigration English test trial

Jurors hear portion of one defendant’s interview

Grand Court did not adjourn until almost 5 p.m. on Friday, but the extended time allowed Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran to conclude the presentation of evidence in the Crown’s case against five immigration officers and two civilians.

Presiding judge Philip St. John-Stevens released jurors until noon on Monday.

The defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit fraud on the government by arranging for the payment of rewards to public officers as consideration for providing assistance to candidates to pass an English language test. The offenses are alleged to have occurred between August 2015 and June 2016.

Applicants for work permits must take the test if they are from a country in which English is not the primary language.

The five immigration officers are further charged with failure to report the solicitation of a reward or advantage.

The defendants were arrested on various dates in 2017. All have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Crown’s final witness was the investigating officer, Anthony Daniels of the Anti-Corruption Commission.

Jurors heard that, when the defendants were arrested, their phones were seized. Thousands of messages were obtained from the phones and these were screened, using keywords.

Questioned by defense attorneys, Mr. Daniels agreed that many messages were in Spanish and not all of them were translated or put into the evidence bundle given to jurors.

One message not included was, “Buy number three.” Mr. Daniels said it was not included because it had no bearing on the English language tests.

The attorney asked if the omission did not present a misleading picture – and whether adding it to the conversation might provide a different context. (Jurors have already heard that some immigration officers bought numbers in a lottery that is illegal in Cayman.) Mr. Daniels said he could see the attorney’s point, but to include every single text or message would have taken away the clarity of other messages.

The attorney suggested that Mr. Daniels was inviting jurors to speculate.

He did not agree that he was inviting jurors to “fill in the blanks” or “guess.”

Asked about an exchange of messages between two immigration officers, he agreed he thought they had to do with an attempt to get assistance with the English language test for a candidate. He said it was a conclusion he came to based on messages that showed a repeated pattern.

Mr. Daniels was asked about his interview with a female civilian defendant. It was suggested that she should have had an interpreter present because she did not understand his questions. The officer said that, after he rephrased the question and spoke more slowly, she did answer.

The attorney suggested that this defendant never admitted that $600 was paid to get help for a relative with the English language test. He referred to a written record of the interview, which has the woman replying, “For the test” as a statement, when in fact she was asking, “For the test?”

Mr. Moran advised that he had an audio recording of the interview. He later played a portion of it and jurors were able to hear the tone of voice with which the defendant said the words.

For legal reasons, the defendants are not being named at this time.

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