Handcuffed and sitting in the back of a prison van that was being escorted by a dozen armed police under the watchful gaze of the Air Support Unit, Elmer Wright arrived to the Grand Court to resume his trial on Thursday, 24 Oct. Inside the courthouse, a further complement of officers and police dogs guarded the entrance and exits of each door.
Initially Wright, 26, was charged alongside Nikel Thomas, 25, and both were due to stand trial for robbery, theft, attempted burglary, aggravated burglary, possession of an imitation firearm and damage to property in connection to a Prospect home invasion in June 2017.
During the home invasion, the men are alleged to have tied up a husband and wife and proceeded to rob them at gunpoint. The men are also alleged to have stolen a car and tried to break into a West Bay home that night as well.
Both men have previously denied the charges. Minutes before the trial began on Thursday, Thomas changed his plea to guilty for charges of attempted burglary and simple burglary. The prosecution accepted Thomas’s pleas and he was released on bail. An application to leave the remaining charges on his file is expected to be made at a later date.
The trial then continued with Wright as the sole defendant.
Prior to the start of the trial, Keith Myers, representing Wright, questioned the need for his client to be “shackled like a dog”.
“You would think Mr. Wright was the biggest murderer or robber in Cayman,” said Myers. “He was dragged to court shackled like a dog, with armed police everywhere. There are police in the court right now, two guarding the exits and another watching through the glass in the door.”
“My client needs to be in the right state of mind if he is to participate properly and ultimately to have a fair trial,” added Myers. “Furthermore, how do you justify such a strain on the public’s purse?”
When the trial did eventually begin, a third man, who was also charged in relation to both incidents, gave evidence. Caine Demetree Thomas, 19, Nikel’s younger brother, recalled the events of the night when he and others allegedly set out to commit the various crimes.
“I committed the crimes, with Elmer Wright and Nikel Thomas, as well as [another man],” said Caine Thomas.
A third man who is named in the indictment has not been charged. By request of the court, Cayman Compass is not releasing his name.
Dressed in jackets, gloves and masks, the men allegedly first tried to break into a West Bay home. They were frightened off by an alarm, however, and they then moved on in search of another potential target. They eventually ended up at the Prospect home where the “heinous crime” was committed, the court heard.
The men, using WD40, tried to pick the door lock. When that failed, they entered through a window, the witness said.
“I remember them searching up, searching up, and grabbing games and controllers for [a] Play Station control,” said Caine Thomas. “I remember we picked up Apple phones, laptops and other things and we placed them in the bag.”
He told the court that while searching the house, they realised that people were in the home.
“They kicked down the door and I remember seeing two old people in the bed,” he said. “I remember Elmer telling them, ‘Freeze, don’t move. This is the police.’”
He told the court that they demanded cash from the couple and stripped them of their Rolex watches. Eventually, the couple cooperated with the robbers. The couple were left bound to chairs by duct tape.
The is the second installation of the trial. When the trial first started last year, it was placed on hold to facilitate “tremendous evidence that was brought to the Crown’s attention”.
Wright denies the charges.
The trial continues.