[UPDATE]: House Speaker McKeeva Bush Monday was handed a suspended sentence for three assault charges leveled against him following an altercation at a local bar earlier this year.
Bush was not sentenced to serve jail time, although he will have a conviction recorded against him. He was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment on each assault charge to run concurrently, which was suspended for two years.
Bush was also ordered to adhere to a curfew of 6pm to 6am, Monday through Sunday, for the next two months and was fined $700 for disorderly conduct. Part of his house arrest will count towards the suspended sentence as the magistrate added a doorstep condition, which would allow authorities to check on his whereabouts.
The West Bay West MP will have to pay $4,279 in compensation to the victim for medical expenses and emotional distress.
Bush was given an exemption from the curfew if parliament sits beyond 6pm, but he must be home within an hour of the House’s suspension.
In passing sentence on Bush, Summary Court Magistrate Kristy Gunn described the veteran lawmaker’s behaviour as “shameful”, saying that to not record a conviction against Bush would “entirely send the wrong message”. She added that he had no one else to blame for the sentence but himself as he was highly intoxicated.
Gunn said the House Speaker’s actions in the incident could not be described as “a mere mishap” and was “most offensive” as the victim was rendering help in what quickly became an “unprovoked attack”.
Bush had previously pleaded guilty to two of the three assault charges that were laid against him following the February incident involving the female manager at Coral Beach, on West Bay Road.
Bush had pleaded not guilty to the first count of common assault – the most serious offence he was charged with. In that charge it was said that he grabbed the bar manager by her hair and punched her in the face several times. He also hurled bus tubs (plastic containers used to carry dishes) at the woman during the incident.
Gunn convicted Bush of the offence on the facts presented and the video evidence.
To not register a conviction against him, she said, would only serve to “undermine public confidence in the justice system”.
Bush’s attorney, Michael Alberga, had previously told the court a conviction could have implications for Bush’s official travel or travel with his wife for medical attention. While Gunn said she understood, she believes it is a consequence Bush would have to bear for his actions. His status and exemplary record, she contended, did not absolve him of that.
Gunn, in delivering her 11-page ruling, outlined the case against Bush, saying that there was a “violent struggle”.
The law, she added, did not allow for a fine to be imposed and she felt that the circumstances had passed the custody threshold based on the facts of the case.
While she said she took into account the fact that Bush had an exemplary record and had 19 character references filed in his favour, Gunn said she believed that it was reprehensible that Bush would get intoxicated to the point where he could not recall his actions.
Using four months’ imprisonment as a starting point for her sentence, Gunn discounted time for Bush’s clean record, his guilty pleas and his display of remorse over the incident.
Bush listened intently as the judgment was handed down in the near-empty courtroom.
Gunn said she also considered the emotional and psychological impact the incident had on the victim, who sustained bruises and injuries in the incident.
“She was fearful of going out in public and that she would be intimidated into keeping silent,” Gunn said, as she outlined the impact the incident had on the bar manager.
Gunn said she noted that Bush had sought grief counselling to deal with his mother’s and daughter’s deaths, that he had stopped drinking and was rehabilitated, all of which weighed in his favour.
When approached by the Cayman Compass after the matter, Bush declined comment and said he will have plenty to say soon.
Moran, when reached for comment on the sentence, said, “We will not be making a comment in relation to the sentence.”
Bush has seven days to appeal the sentence. He did not indicate if he planned to do so.
[ORIGINAL STORY]: Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush will not serve jail time after being convicted of disorderly conduct and assault charges stemming from an incident earlier this year where Bush physically assaulted a female staff member at a West Bay Road bar.
Bush, who previously pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and two of the three counts of common assault charges against him, on Monday was convicted of the first count as well.
Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn sentenced Bush to two months’ imprisonment for each of the assault charges suspended for two years, meaning he will not serve prison time as long as certain conditions from the court are met.
Bush previously pleaded not guilty to the first count – the most serious count – that charges he grabbed the woman by her hair and punched her in the face several times.
He was ordered to adhere to a curfew of 6pm to 6am, Monday through Sunday for the next two months and must pay a $700 fine to the court and roughly $4,000 in compensation to the victim for medical expenses and emotional distress.
Bush, through his attorney, declined comment when asked by the Compass outside the courthouse.
Check back on this developing story throughout the day.