Charges were dismissed Friday afternoon against Jeannie Lewis, the suspended immigration officer accused of permitting consumption of controlled drugs at her home and of knowingly assisting a person to remain unlawfully in the Cayman Islands.
Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn recounted the Crown’s evidence against Lewis and concluded that she was left unconvinced of the charges.
Lewis’s Savannah home was raided during the early hours of 25 Aug. 2016, in an operation that netted four other arrests, including Antonio Bullard, a Bahamian national who turned out to be an illegal lander.
During the raid, police uncovered quantities of ganja in her adult son’s bedroom, in a back shed and inside a lime-green drawstring bag found on a table.
These discoveries entangled the career immigration officer in a more than three-year legal battle, in which she denied knowledge of Bullard’s status and the ganja found in her home.
While certain circumstances of the case were described as suspicious, Gunn concluded that the Crown did not meet the burden of proof and could not demonstrate the Lewis knew of Bullard’s status or of the ganja.
Review of CCTV could not demonstrate that Lewis was home when drugs where being handled at the home, where police also found electronic scales and jars in the shed area.
“With 12 days of footage, police only identified five occasions of dealings,” Gunn said. “The defendant was not seen in the footage or proven to be home at the time.”
Gunn concluded it was possible Lewis genuinely did not know of the drugs in her home, given that the ganja was found in her adult son’s room and that the smell was only detected by officers in the shed area. The presence of ganja in these limited areas hinted that perhaps it was being concealed from Lewis, Gunn said.
Gunn added that it was reasonable to believe that Lewis no longer tidied her adult son’s room, preventing her from finding the ganja.
“I was persuaded that the defendant genuinely disapproves of consumption of drugs,” Gunn said, pointing to Lewis’s exemplary record in immigration enforcement.
Regarding the discovery of ganja in a lime-green bag on a table, Gunn said she could not exclude the possibility that the bag had been moved during the police operation.
“I cannot be sure that ganja was left in plain view in a communal area,” Gunn said.
As for the discovery of Bullard in her home, Gunn was persuaded that Lewis had no reason to question Bullard’s immigration status. In court Friday, Bullard was described as a friend of her son. During the raid, the Bahamian was found sleeping in the son’s bedroom.
While CCTV footage demonstrated Bullard felt comfortable entering Lewis’s home, Gunn said it did not establish that she was close to Bullard. Footage showed him entering the home with her son.
“I am not persuaded that she would be questioning the status of every new friend of her son,” Gunn said, adding that Bullard’s American accent further diminished any suspicion she may have had.
Other footage submitted as evidence showed Lewis and Bullard speaking, but Gunn said this video only provided a snapshot and did not demonstrate when Bullard entered or left the home on that occasion.
While officers observed Lewis passing Bullard slippers during the raid, it could not be inferred from this interaction that Lewis knew of his status.
Gunn said she accepted Lewis’s argument that should would have reported any illegal immigrants who came to her attention.