Prosecutors break silence over Pines case

| 16/09/2015 | 60 Comments
Cayman News Service

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards, QC

(CNS): As the public outcry mounted Wednesday over the decision by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) not to pursue the theft case against the former manager of the Pines Retirement Home, the office issued a rare statement. Raising eleven points of consideration that it said would be weighed in any case ahead of a decision to charge a suspect or not, the ODPP attempted to justify a ruling not to extradite and prosecute Sue Nicholson for the suspected theft of $300,000, which has been seen by critics as a significant illustration of inequity in the local justice system.

Prosecutors almost never comment on any issues relating to cases outside of the court. However, on Wednesday morning the statement, which was attributed to the office and not the director, Cheryll Richards, said that the ODPP was “not permitted to comment publicly in relation to the contents of a file arising from a criminal complaint”, nor was it the usual practice to comment on decisions.

But following a public statement from the Pines management — the complainant in this case — who expressed disappointment over the decision, and in the face of significant public consternation, the prosecutors said that given the “unusual circumstances”, they felt “compelled” to make some observations.

The prosecutors said that they received a full ruling file, which would have come from the RCIPS Financial Crimes Unit, in May 2015, “some 2 years after the individual against whom the allegations had been made had left the jurisdiction”.

“As with all rulings, careful consideration was given to the circumstances of the case and any unusual features were taken into account,” the office stated.

Outlining the type of issues that are considered when deciding whether or not to bring a criminal prosecution, the ODPP said it was duty bound to examine all the circumstances.

“The facts and circumstances of each case will be different and the competing interests which need to be considered are never the same. Such factors may include evidential and public interest matters, for example,” the prosecutors stated.

They said factors included any unexplainable delays between the making of the original complaint and the provision of material in support of it, discrepancies between the original complaint and the material subsequently provided to the police in support of the complaint, and the conduct of the complainant prior to and subsequent to the making of a complaint, as some of the main considerations. They also pointed to the fact of restitution, the extent of such restitution and its impact on the overall harm sustained by the complainant or any actions taken at the time of the complaint as further considerations.

In this case, Nicholson’s ex-husband paid back the cash that his wife at the time was suspected of taking, with interest, and, according to comments made by police, had re-mortgaged his house in order to do so.

Other considerations listed by the public prosecutors included the sufficiency or insufficiency of any evidence contained in the file provided to the office, the potential for legal arguments arising from the issues and the whereabouts of the accused and the potential cost at public expense of any extradition proceedings.

Nicholson had left Cayman before the case was reported to police in 2013. Although she had been expected to return, apparently the former manager of the George Town retirement home has not returned to Cayman since she left. A UK national, Nicholson also had Caymanian status and, given the fact that the Cayman Islands is a British overseas territory, it is evident that extradition would be considerably easier than if Nicholson had fled to another country.

However, prosecutors said that factors such as the potential outcome of any criminal prosecution relating to case disposal in light of the particular circumstances and whether embarking upon a criminal prosecution at this time was proportionate were also considered ahead of deciding not to press ahead.

“In keeping with our ongoing duty, should any of the circumstances giving rise to a decision not to prosecute change, then the decision may be revisited,” the office said in the statement.

The prosecutors did not comment on the quality or quantity of the evidence provided to them or the likelihood of a successful prosecution based on that evidence if Nicholson was extradited. Notably, however, the evidence plus the outcome of a forensic audit conducted by KPMG was clearly sufficient to persuade her husband at the time to pay back the missing cash, even though the payment had been made without admission of any guilt on anyone’s part.

Although restitution of stolen cash may be part of the court’s consideration in any theft or dishonesty case, it would not, under normal circumstances, prevent a prosecution. At the time of the probe the RCIPS told CNS that the return of the cash to the Pines had not meant an end to the investigation. Other cases before the courts where offenders have paid back part or all of the money taken has assisted in mitigation and reduced sentences but repayment alone would not normally prevent a prosecution.

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Comments (60)

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  1. Admiral Caliente says:

    Dearest 4:55pm please stop making aspersions about the Pines Board. When this first was uncovered it was determined that, serious questions were raised by a now retired civil servant who was in charge of this portfolio, as to how the government monies or grant to the PInes Retirement home was being spent and other discrepancies concerning Ms Nicholson and was deliberately and foolishly ignored and shrugged off by the current PS who put these queries down to a personal grudge against Ms Nicholson. I wonder if she is saying that now???

    • Anonymous says:

      It is apparent from the ODPP’s decision that the complainant (being the Pines Board), did not produce sufficient or adequate evidence against Ms. Nicholson. Remember, the burden of proof is the responsibility of the complainant, not the accused. Yes, the funds went missing over a period of years, but it seems as though there is no concrete evidence linking Ms. Nicholson to the theft.

      I’m just curious if the Pines Board were wrong in their suspicions of Ms. Nicholson, and perhaps the real thief is still at The Pines for all we know?!

      • Anonymous says:

        No one could deduce that from the statement made by Richards particularly as she specifically mentions repayment plus interest of the cash Nicholsons wife was suspected of taking. I realise there are people close to Sue who would like to believe she wasn’t guilty and surely there must be someone else responsible. But please don’t think for one moment that the police the Pines and the prosecutor didn’t have a serious evidence against Sue to contend with. You will add insult to injury otherwise.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yikes are you saying it wasn’t the board that first raised the alarm about Sue stealing??!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dear Madam Justice
    Now that your decision has been made. Add to that that she never returns to the Cayman Islands to plague people. If you cannot bring her back then keep her out. Bet we will never get a reply on that. CNS? Would love if you could ask a lawyer there if this could be done?

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would she return to the island there isn’t anything for her to come back to, other then hate and speculation.
      She has more in the UK, family, 2 daughters and her grandchild as well as anonymity
      The ODPP has made her decisions which is favourable to Susan but I should imagine to the board also, as they couldn’t have been very vigilant if all that money went missing over an 8 year period, if they had done their jobs properly they would have seen money was missing sooner, they should have been investigated also.

  3. WaYaSay says:

    Dear Madam Governor……….yes you………the Lady in the new white Jag. Put Richards and Baines on the same plane and get them off this Island, please. While you are at it, tell your FCO bosses to send the run-a-way Caymanian, Sue Nicholson’s a$$ back “home” on the same return flight!
    Fire someone, for God’s sake, even if it is the guy that washes your Jag………just so that we know that you are not deaf, dumb and blind.

    On the same day’s news, there were two stories published. One was the story of a Caymanian who stole $45,000.00, was prosecuted, was sentenced to 22 months in jail and ordered to pay back the theft in full, once he is released from jail, or face severe jail time in addition if he does not pay within a fixed time period.
    The other story was of another “Caymanian’ (yes unfortunately, Sue Nicholson is, legally, as Caymanian as I am, she has the papers to prove it) who allegedly stole $300,000.00 from the Pines Retirement Home, and is going to get off, absolutely free.

    Now that the decision has been made to throw the file into the garbage by Richards, I am left to wander; can Mr. Nicholson sue the old people’s home to get his money back so that he can get his house back out of hock?
    Can he win his suit because no crime was committed in the first place?
    Can he get his money back as obviously there is no evidence that his ex-wife stole anything?
    Is the KPMG audit just an attempt to besmirch his good wife’s good name and there is no proof in the audit opinion that his wife did anything wrong?
    Can Sue Nicholson now return to the Cayman Islands and get a new job and live in peace because there is nothing on her record that she is a criminal thief who stole $300,000.00?
    Can Sue Nicholson sue Baines for false arrest as obviously he knew no crime was committed?

    So many questions…………..so few answers.

    Madam Governor……..if the answer to all my questions is a resounding NO, is this proof that you were sent here by the FCO to completely screw this Island over? Have the COP, the AG’s Office and the OPP been ordered to assist you in any way they can?
    I know, I know, the answer again is of course NO!

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      So many questions so few answers. Is Sue Nicholson an agent of MI5 tasked with destroying Cayman? Is she the secret lover and mastermind behind Jeffrey Webb? Does the tooth fairy exist.? Perhaps if your questions were less fantastical there may be answers.

      PS she cannot sued for false arrest if she hasn’t been arrested. Hey but don’t let facts get in the way of paranoid speculation.

  4. AGS says:

    I am not sure of the criteria r process but will she now be stripped of her Caymanian status and be considered an undesirable? If the DPP has decided not to pursue the case then it means she has never been charged and is not a fugitive so in a few years she could very well come back to Cayman and work and live here again.
    So the message to a person who steals from their employer is to get a plane ticket and get out of here first, then arrange for the money to be paid back and you are home free. Once the money is paid back and you are off island they won’t see the point in prosecuting you.

    But to be fair to the DPP you people have been down on her so much lately about losing what should have been open and shut cases, maybe she just doesn’t want to risk losing this one too so she will pass on this one.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is not entirely fair to blame the ODPP for this decision; it is certainly a reflection of how incompetent the Pines’ Board of Directors are. The same Board who somehow let these funds go missing right under their noses without noticing for years – shame on them.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m sorry did you give up your time from your family and business to help run a charity to assist the old and elderly. Criminals have hit banks, law firms, stores, individuals and government in Cayman and we don’t have the stomach for this decision by the prosecutors office. And Most don’t have the luxury of sitting in an arm chair to criticise those that give their time freely to a charity to try to improve lives. I’m sure the board of Pines would do many things differently but this discussion has to do with the decision to not prosecute for a serious and heinous crime against the sick and elderly and against a charity. The ‘blame’ is against the criminal that commits the crime and it’s the job of the prosecutor to prosecute the crime.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hello cayman is not for caymanians we all have no rights , thanks to the politicians that
    was voted in to do better for the cayman people

  7. Anonymous says:

    I guess it is clear. all you need to get away with crime in Cayman is an airplane ticket. Once again they prove that justice stops at the international boundary of the country.

    This is a disgrace to the people of the country and the hard working FCO. The director of ODPP, Cheryll Richards needs to step down or be removed.

    • Fred the Piemaker says:

      Hey, if you don’t even set foot in the jurisdiction but use Cayman corporate vehicles to commit crime you don’t even need to buy the airline ticket.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Oh but if she has been caught with one small spliff of ganja!

  9. Revelations 3:45 says:

    Note to all born outside Cayman trying to destroy it:

    “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”

    Exodus 22.21

  10. Anonymous says:

    Disgraceful!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    XXXXXX

    My final question is this; will this comment be printed or published?

    CNS: I never publish comments that dare or challenge us to do so or question whether i will or not. For the record.

    • Tony Ward says:

      OK then. If I had not asked the final question would you have published the real meat of my request?
      I really believe that the man on the street is deserving of this knowledge.
      Thank you for at least recognizing my queries.
      Do members of the legal profession really answer to a different God?

      CNS: Yes, I think so, if I remember it rightly.

  12. Anonymous says:

    So much for “the long arm of the law”

  13. Anonymous says:

    I assume her status cannot be revoked unless she is prosecuted.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Double standard. Get real Cheryl and reconsider the decision. The Caymanian public deserves better.

    Expat.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand why they didn’t at least charge her. Isn’t the decision to pursue extradition a separate decision? There is now nothing stopping her from ever returning to the Island as a visitor.

  16. White Jag Justice says:

    If you all think this social butterfly and her FCO wizard incharge of these islands gives a toot about justice and fairness when it comes to UK and its nationals and their welfare you folks are dreaming or just plain stupid. Sue Nicholson will return here when this boils over and get a great job too Its the Britissh way and this is their territory. Some would do well to remember this, the penal system and persecution apparatus is to keep order and us under control.

  17. No Soup for You says:

    Mrs. Richards and her Merry Band of Henchmen usually go after people for far less, with far less evidence at their disposal. Something stinks to the high heavens here, and it’s not the dump this time. No soup for you!!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Get the pitchforks and torches!!

  19. Therefore I am says:

    The most peaceable way for you, if you do take a thief, is, to let him show himself what he is and steal out of your company.

    – William Shakespeare

    Apt to the ODPP.

  20. Anonymous says:

    A load of dribble. There is well more than enough evidence to prosecute (especially when compared to so many other cases prosecuted with far less evidence).
    Here we have the RCIPS and the ODPP each passing the buck (typical Govt. strategy – and no one held accountable). And no one above them ensuring “Good Governance”, while we the public pay more dearly every year for it all.

    • Kenny says:

      Thank you Madam DPP. You are a true hero. Please don’t listen to the posters who have no idea what you said and have already convicted this woman without even having 2 cents knowledge about the case and evidence . We have trust and confidence in you. Negative posters I think I will actually listen to someone who has seen all the evidence. But then again you all know more about the case since you have some type of super powers zzzzzźz

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t think that the DPP is saying there is no case. Actually the opposite. She seems to be suggesting she has good reasons not to prosecute (Sue left Cayman already, the police were late getting her the file and Sue’s husband paid up (what was alleged to be stolen (hint, hint) and so, whats the big deal…or something along those lines). Well I hope you don’t need a hero any time soon, your standards in heroism is a bit dodgy (like the DPP’s decision and statement’).

    • Anonymous says:

      Women beaters, rapist, thieves, poachers etc… All waking free. We need to correct these issues NOW!!!!

    • We need to clean House says:

      How can these politicians sit back and let these matters go officially unchallenged. The Premier and the Leader of the Opposition need to get off their sweet spot fat/slim derrières and write to and meet with the governor indicating their disgust with this matter.

      We can’t be paying these fat salaries to people who allow the justice/polices system in these Islands to deteriorate any further. The Heads of the Departments causing this state of emergency must roll, they must be fired immediatelyas there is sufficient evidence of incompetence and misconducts is available to justify their canning.

      God Bless these Cayman Islands.

  21. Anonymous says:

    HINKOMPETENT!

  22. Allar says:

    Baines and Cheryl needs to resign. NOW

  23. Anonymous says:

    I read and reread the statement for Ms Richards. I still don’t understand why she bothered making a statement or what exactly it is she is trying to say. Is she blaming the RCIP? is she alluding to lack of evidence although the husband returned the money with interest? Is this a new concept that repayment can weigh in their decision whether to prosecute? It seems that the public outcry has taken the DPP by surprise and so she felt compelled to say ‘something’ and maybe if she muddied the waters the public would be confused as to what has taken place. Ms Richards has made a terrible mistake here and failed to understand that the public views this suspected crime as an unconscionable act against the elderly, the sick and a charity that the public and government funded. the ODPP department seemed to lack the good common sense to understand why this suspected crime was particularly heinous and why there is such an outcry that they weighed the factors and decided there wasn’t anything there worth prosecuting. It has outraged Caymanians and expats alike and affected Caymanians and expats alike (although one can understand why some Caymanians who have been sentenced for far less than what Sue is suspected of doing, would feel particularly aggrieved, as the DPPs decision makes no sense). There were many ways that the ODPP could have addressed this situation but the decision not to prosecute and to then issue this statement was certainly not one, or at least, not a good option. Ms Richards continues to lose credibility and that is very unfortunate, and with her public statement she seems to have made every effort to drag the RCIP down with her. Its another sad day for Cayman.

  24. Joe Kidd says:

    The our dear Governor’s attempt to withhold the Wetton report should have been a wake call to our Political stooges about who exactly should be held accountable for the lack of confidence and integrity in our law enforcement apparatus, but alas too busy with their mamma’s agenda and their little image. Not one single one of these political A$$es call for its release. Were they even aware of its existence????

  25. Raffaelle says:

    Tell Truth you are spot on with your comments These so called experts from overseas have come here and have deliberately undermined and destroyed the system of justice and our very sense of fairness in society. The saddest part they have done this right under the noses of our idiotic and corrupt politicians who keep paying them to do so.

  26. Who I am. says:

    To quote Sybil Fawlty in an episode of Fawlty Towers; “I have seen better organized creatures laying on their backs in the bottom of a pond”.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Unlikelihood of success has certainly not stopped them in the past, but this one seemed to include plenty of evidence. Their statement is gibberish.

  28. To tell you the truth says:

    In fairness, the RCIP does bear some level of culpability in these matters. The Financial Crimes Unit in particular is notorious for taking years to investigate a matter only to come up with the weakest of evidence to go to court, on in some cases, finding that the matter has become time barred.

    Umpteen pension cases and the list goes on and on. I am no fan of the Director of Public Prosecution, but I have to admit that there is mounting evidence of piss poor policing work that is contributing to a number of the failings we are finding in the legal system – and yes, I said legal system as it is clearly not a justice system.

  29. MI8 in Paradise says:

    Cheryll Richards and David Baines need to resign if anyone in GOAB understands the concept of accountability. In addition, the officers investigating the alleged crime that took two years to conclude the file need to be fired for cause. This case just another example of incompetence by the police. Look at the results, the RCIPS and DPP are the best examples of tax dollars being wasted due to incompetence which has developed into pure arrogance by its leaders.

    Good Governance in the Caymans is a buzz word with no meaning. Governor Kilpatrick is the captain of a sinking ship asleep at the wheel. In fact she doesnt give a toss as there more important matters to attend to like cocktail receptions, ribbon cutting ceremonies, LGBT debates and enjoying the new jag with the family.

    • Anonymous says:

      well said – the truth hurts, their careers would have been in the dustbin years ago if this was England.

      Double standard when it comes to our little island.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why the press gives Helen Kilpatrick a free ticket is beyond me. Not one of our media outlets has even bothered to step up to the plate and outlined the Governor’s record since she joined us. I can assure you all, it is not auspicious. I do NOT understand how the press just censors our grievances. What is going on?

      • Anonymous says:

        Based on the overall positivity of the responses, you would think we would be on to something, but no, not in Absurdistan.

    • George R. Ebanks says:

      MI8 in Paradise@3:13pm..I endorce your comments 100%!
      I suggest that the case be “revisited” and pursued!

    • Anonymous says:

      What’s interesting is that they are trying to extradite Jeff Webb for allegedly playing some role in a conflict of interest case for a total of $168,000.00 with Canover which I’m sure they have spent hundreds of thousands investigating so far. And they spent millions of dollars to go after the Premier for $10,000.00. What’s the difference? They are locals.

      • Anonymous says:

        How long did it take for the DPP to finalise their file on the ex-Premier’s alleged transgressions?.

  30. Bluff Patrol says:

    Unacceptable.

  31. Kman Salt says:

    The Peter Principle on full display……..

    • Isaac says:

      Absolutely….
      That must be the mantra somewhere inside the Govt Buildings…”we will follow the PETER PRINCIPLE at all cost”

    • Anonymous says:

      Hear hear! Not good enough. This was a beloved charity and the keystone cops reply does not hold up. The public outcry has NOT been about the complaint or footwork, this has now Pitter locals against expats saying if you can afford to run and your wealthy family pays your debt – you can get away with it?? Nothing less than extradition will suffice!!! If the cops bad evidence and case handling let a crook off the hook – so be it, but the public demands this moves forward and this suspected senior citizen robbing thief is brought back on BA next week!!! Your answer is not good enough

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