Sandra Hill convicted of misusing ICT network

Updated – 6 Aug., 4:40pm:

Cayman Marl Road administrator Sandra Teresa Hill has been found guilty of misusing an information and communications technology network to abuse and harass businessman Matthew Leslie. 

The charge stems from a podcast and a series of online posts made by Hill in February 2019, during which she levelled a number of allegations against Leslie. 

Those allegations included details about Leslie’s marriage and other aspects of his personal and professional life. The allegations were then posted on Hill’s Cayman Marl Road website and its related social media platforms. 

Justice Roger Chapple said when he was coming to a verdict, he had to balance Hill’s constitutionally protected right to freedom of expression, with that of Leslie’s inherent right to not be abused or harassed. 

“There’s no dispute that the right to expression is a qualified right,” said Chapple. “Section 11 [of the Constitution] does not provide the citizen with an unfettered freedom to express herself in anyway she chooses, regardless of the rights, sensibilities and interests of others.” 

He added, “The right of freedom of expression must be balanced against other interests and perspectives.” 

During the trial, Chapple ruled the truthfulness of Hill’s allegations was not a matter for the court to decide. Instead Chapple said the court needed to determine if Hill’s actions amounted to a crime by publishing the allegations.  

“People can be harassed and abused by information that is true and/or false,” said Chapple. 

During the trial, Hill’s attorney, Clayton Phuran, argued she should not have been convicted because she believed the allegations to be true. 

When returning his verdict today, Chapple said under the Penal Code slander and libel remained a criminal offence and, under that law, the defence of truth was applicable. However, because no such provision exists under the Misuse of the ICT Network Law, Chapple said no such defence could be applied.  

“Having carried out the balancing exercise, I regard a conviction as both necessary and appropriate in a democratic society; accordingly I find Mrs Hill guilty,” said Chapple. 

Following the guilty verdict, Leslie told Cayman Compass he was happy with the result and the message it sends. 

“I’m happy to have finally closed this chapter of my life, of what feels like an eternity of being harassed by Sandra,” said Leslie. “It feels like a massive weight was lifted off my shoulders.” 

“What this shows is that you cannot just assassinate someone’s character,” he added. “The verdict pretty much says, ‘No Sandra, you cannot get away with ruining people’s lives.’” 

Hill told the Compass while she is disappointed with the verdict, she has not been dissuaded from speaking what she believes is the truth. 

“If anything, I am even more firm in my resolve to speak the cold hard truth,” said Hill. “I’m obviously disappointed with the judgment and that the judge was questioning my honesty and integrity. However, I remain firm in my resolve on this issue and the need for a podcast.” 

Hill has since confirmed to the Cayman Compass that she intends to appeal the decision, and has since fired her lawyer. 

She was released on bail and is expected to be sentenced in October.  

Darlene Oko was the Crown counsel in the case. 

[ORIGINAL STORY]

Cayman Marl Road administrator Sandra Teresa Hill has been found guilty of contravening the Information and Communications Technology Law to abuse and harass businessman Matthew Leslie.

The charge stems from a podcast and a series of online posts made by Hill in February 2019, during which she levelled a number of allegations against Leslie.

Those allegations included details about Leslie’s marriage and other aspects of his personal and professional life. The allegations were then posted on Hill’s Cayman Marl Road website and its related social media platforms.

Justice Roger Chapple handed down his verdict earlier today (6 Aug.), in the Grand Court. Hill was subsequently released on bail and is to return for sentencing in October.

Check back for more details on this story.

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