Family dog may visit crash lawyer

| 13/07/2016 | 59 Comments
Cayman News Service

Simon Courtney is led out of the courthouse in handcuffs

(CNS): The wife of a corporate attorney jailed recently for mowing down and seriously injuring two tourists in his sports car after a champagne brunch has applied to take the family dog with her when she visits HMP Northward. Prison officials have confirmed that an individual who has applied to visit an inmate has made a request to bring a dog with her on medical grounds. Prison Director Neil Lavis, who didn’t name the prisoner, though CNS has learned it is Simon Courtney, stated that, as a rule, pets are not allowed to accompany visitors to the prison unless they are service animals, such as guide dogs.

Although there are shelter dogs at HMP Northward that are part of a prison community rehabilitation project, pets are not usually on the visitor list. Lavis explained that the visiting facilities at the prison don’t allow for animals to come because the logistics for allowing pet visits would be very challenging.

However, he confirmed that a family member planning on visiting a prisoner has requested to bring a dog with her because of a health condition she has. Lavis said that this was the first such request he had received during his time as head of HM Cayman Islands Prison Service and was being considered based purely on medical grounds.

While there are likely many inmates around the world who have pets that they miss, only specially trained service animals are normally allowed to accompany visitors.

There are, however, numerous rehabilitation programmes involving animals and inmates have been allowed in many cases to have pets in the prison, from the famous Birdman of Alcatraz to dog training programmes in several prisons around the world. Research has shown that prisoners who take care of animals behind bars are less violent and more cooperative, and there is evidence to suggest it helps with recidivism rates.

One of the most successful is the Prison Pet Partnership, a non-profit organisation at the Washington Corrections Center for Women. Inmates there rescue and train homeless animals to provide service dogs for people with disabilities and operate a boarding and grooming facility. As well as helping the dogs, the inmates learn valuable skills that can be used on the outside and the jail claims that no woman who has gone through the pet training programme has ever returned to the jail.

HMP Northward currently has a number of prisoners looking after and training stray dogs, for which the inmates looking after them are trying to find homes. Several inmates also work on building kennels for a number of local animal rescue charities.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s amazing how media can manipulate people into thinking whatever they want, I’m almost sure half the people here just read a news article and immediately thought they were experts on the situation. Honestly I’m loving all these condescending comments, on this whole situation. Anyway everyone keep up the bad work 🙂

    Disclaimer: Referring to comments not the company and/or journalist of this article.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I knew I could count on the natives getting restless and getting their pitchforks sharpened!

  3. Simple Simon says:

    It’s a dog visit dog world out there.

  4. Foreign Devil says:

    Who’s going to be checking the dogs’ orifaces for flasks of champagne ?!

  5. james says:

    Easy to beat up on Simon here. What he did was cowardly and wrong.

    There are about 10 restaurants offering all you can drink champagne brunches and not all the customers are tourists.

    How many people leave those brunchs every week had a little too much champagne?

    There but for the grace of God go I and many others.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes and if we ALL know this, why the police do nothing about it…….. ANY given day or night of the week the police could arrest countless people, but they don’t…..why is this?

    • Anonymous says:

      Ok that’s fine yes restaurants offer alcohol. Many reatYtanta and bar offer cheap drinks which would cost much less to get drunk than the cost of a brunch. People generally do not cause accidents. So far this is the first. Brunches people will eat and drink and take their time. A pure bar, it is o my drinking going on.

      Adults can make their own choices. The ones that don’t make good choices end up in prison most times. The ones that make bad choices and don’t end up in prison are just lucky.

  6. Anonymous says:


  7. Anonymous says:

    Unless the dog is required for service, why would an allowance be made? I agree if it was not needed in court then it is not needed to accompany her to prison. Unless of course she needs it in order to look at the smug twat who shows no remorse for not only drinking and driving with horrific consequences, but leaving his” poor, sick, delicate, service dog requiring”wife sitting in the car and running away. The guy is a gutless coward. I feel sorry for her. To be so weak as to stay married to him! Take the dog, put him back in your handbag and leave the idiot to figure out exactly why he is sitting in Northwood.

  8. frangipani says:

    the audacity!! who do they think they are? Can you imagine the mess and chaos if every prisoner turned up there with their pet?

    • Anonymous says:

      Their ‘pets’ are home watching the babies and busy throwing telephone and marijuana stuffed chickens over the fence

  9. Anonymous says:

    I was in the American Airways lounge in Miami two days ago and a young lady was in there with her large poodle on a leash. It was not a service dog and the lady looked quite normal. I had never seen this before and on questioning the staff I was advised that rules permit a passenger to be accompanied by their dog for “emotional support” as long as they have a letter from their doctor.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its high time we stop people bringing their dogs everywhere in Cayman such as the beach. Caymanians have never done this, and kids playing in the sand building castles have never had to worry about what animal mess they might uncover.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Must be a slow news day !!!!!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps he has hired the dog as his legal counsel?

    Simon: What shall we do?
    Dog: Tell the truth.
    Simon: I was hoping you wouldn’t say that.
    Dog: We “dumb” animals don’t know any other way.
    Simon: Then people will know I got blasted, lost control of my car and hurt some pedestrians?
    Dog: Yep, they probably already know.
    Simon: I hate it when you are right.
    Dog: You don’t need a legal degree to tell the truth. You need one to get out of it.
    Simon: Dammit Dog, you are killing me here.
    Dog: No Simon, my two-legged friend. You are killing yourself.
    Simon: Dog, you are right. I feel ready to face up to the truth.
    Dog: Right, now we have a chance.
    Simon: What shall I say?
    Dog: The truth. You got blasted and hurt someone. Apologize first and then offer restitution within your means.
    Simon: Wow, that’s not so hard. Perhaps I can get out early and help my victims?
    Dog: If you are sincere, yes.
    Simon: Why didn’t I think of that before?
    Dog: You asked a lawyer.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I thought CNS’ coverage of the trial and sentencing seemed quite fair. However – although an attempt has been made to suggest that any permitted visit by the family dog would be a form of special treatment for Mr Courtney -,the direct consequence is to embarrass Mrs Courtney unnecessarily which is in very poor taste.

    • whatever says:

      Nothing at all in this that should embarrass Mrs. Courtney. In fact, I would argue that Courtney’s actions are far, far more embarrassing than an article describing a request to bring a dog to prison… If she’s going to flaunt her “illness” as a means to garner sympathy from the judge then I think CNS has every right to cover her request to bring a dog to prison.

    • Anonymous says:

      Puhleeze, what could be more embarrassing than being married to that guy.

  13. whatever says:

    This comment has been modified to pass editorial review:

    Poor service pets… I wonder how many of them are traumatized by all the awful things that they must witness. It’s pure abuse. Really… Not only are you forced to “volunteer” your services (did anyone really ask the poor pooch if this is what he/she really wants to do???) for duties that frankly aren’t all that dog-friendly, now you’re being told that you have to go to prison for the day. Really, is that what you signed up for??? Instead of going on your regular sunny Sunday afternoon sniff at the park, you’re going to some foul-smelling, rotten swampy hole in the ground. Imagine that… Don’t believe me, try it. Stick on a dog’s nose for the weekend and go visit a jail after Bubba just finished his business in the latrines. Fun? Really? No thanks Bubba, I don’t want to lick your smelly fingers. Save that smell for when you want to go to sleep. Seriously, these poor dogs are already subjected to enough unpleasant Happy Hour evenings, when their debauched, boozed-up, exhibitionist owners think nothing of (comment abbreviated due to it being family unfriendly)… All while you’re trying to have your early evening nap…

    • Anonymous says:

      Service dogs (they are not pets) actually love doing their jobs. If they didn’t, they would be washed out (taken out of training) or retired. They are much happier than bored pets home alone all day, as dogs are animals that love having a job/things to do (which is one reason bored pets destroy things – they’re giving themselves something to do). Being out in public is not traumatizing. If a dog isn’t suited for being out in public, it doesn’t become a service dog. Puppies get temperament tested prior to beginning training. And dogs love to sniff things like urine, much to humans’ dismay. It tells them all about the being who left it there.

      • whatever says:

        When someone told you to “Break a leg”, you Sir/Madam probably did exactly that. Do you truly think that what I wrote above is meant to be taken seriously? Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Now go jump in the lake – a pool will do, if you can’t find a lake. I wouldn’t want you losing too much sleep because you can’t find one.

        • whatever says:

          P.S. I’m pretty sure the commentator below (9:29 a.m.) who suggested that the dog be “strip-searched” on every visit didn’t really mean that. I’d hate having you worry needlessly.
          P.P.S. Please do not jump in a lake/pool. That was only a joke.

  14. Anonymous says:

    strip search the dog on every visit!

  15. Anonymous says:

    If the rest of them can have access to weed, booze, facebook, and girlfriends, then I don’t see where a visit from a dog is out of place.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Really CNS this is the only news we can find. We have to continue to follow the case of the selfish. Come on CNS tell about something else that is relevant. KMT

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. Why is this news? will she take him a bar of chocolate? a book to read? Stay tuned CNS will be there t report it all!

      • dolphin says:

        Has this happened before in the Cayman Islands? Probably not. So it’s most likely a first. No, the dog did not land on the moon, but it’s still a first. That’s why it’s being reported.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Disappointing CNS. Either this article designed to give completely the wrong impression or you haven’t researched it properly. There is quite a difference between ‘the family dog’ and ‘her service dog’.

  18. Anonymous says:

    If she is that ill and needs her therapy dog to go with her to the prison. How come she did not need the dog to go with her to the court hearings? I would have thought going to court for the trial/sentencing, and not knowing the outcome would have been way more stressful that going to the prison to visit your loved one.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suppose the answer th that question is that he would not be languishing in the courthouse for 6 years.

  19. Sharkey says:

    The wife or the prisoner didn’t need the dog when they went to brunch , or court , so now they don’t need the dog to visit him in prison . I would say yes if the dog was a service dog , but it’s not.
    Nobody should be able to bend the rules .
    If I was on the Island I would follow this story.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Who cares. Let him see his dog. The guy is paying the price for his actions, stop this crusade to bury him further.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Ironically, just a few days after Mr. Courtney was sentenced to HMP Northward, I saw Neil Lavis at the office of a local utility provider. Although I’ve never met either man, I was tempted, as a private citizen, to approach Mr. Lavis and suggest that there should be no special treatment for Mr. Courtney – if such were to ever be considered. Perhaps many others might understand the reason I contemplated this move but I didn’t take that approach as I knew it would be inappropriate.

    Hmmm??!! Maybe I should have made that unsolicited and unusual approach after all! Seems like the special treatment and privileges have already begun. What next, will Mr. Courtney be providing legal advice to Northward staff? Conjugal visits? Weekend passes?

    Careful, Mr. Lavis, perception can sometimes carry more weight than reality!!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Next it will be little Johnny in Northward who wants his pet parrot “Daisy” and his tame donkey “George” to visit him on Saturday’s and Sunday’s.

    I say, if it was not a Certified Service Animal prior to his conviction, then the answer should be a firm NO.

    This sort of reminds me of Jean Doucet who back in the l970’s, in the middle of the night, arranged the landing of a plane at Owen Roberts Intl Airport for his escape. He stole all the money from Interbank (where Buckingham Square is now located) and fled to France. Interpol caught him about two years later and returned him to Cayman. (Northward did not exist then)

    Upon conviction, he was the first prisoner to have a fridge and black & white TV in his cell, at the old lock up behind Geroge Town Police Station.

    He spent 18 months in jail, then left the island to spend the millions he stole from Caymanians.

    No special treatment for expat criminals including our worthless ass Caymanians up there as well.

  23. Honest idiot says:

    CNS, plz get a copy of the video of this accident and post it. Up until this weekend I was really pissed off by this expat and he got what he deserves. I recently saw the video and as an ex traffic officer and accident trained office on island, this was a freak accident, no intent, yes this idiot left the scene but watch the video, you see the sand and water on the ground, the car passes at what appears to be slow usual speed and all of a sudden looses control not to do with the driver but from what I see the road conditions. Why is there sand on the road? Hmm someone spilt oil and covered it with sand, hmm may there have been a government truck there earlier in the day that had this leak? Maybe..
    No I do agree this person did the wrong thing by leaving the scene but CNS plz get your hands on the video and I am sure most of you guys will agree ..

    • Anonymous says:

      …less pissed off by “this expat”, smh. I would love to see some of the reports you wrote during your police career. Who let the dogs out huh huh

    • Anonymous says:

      where did you see the video? can you not copy and paste??

  24. Anonymous says:

    Come on CNS. You are clearly confusing “pets” and “therapy dogs” with “psychiatric service dogs (PSDs)”. The request is to have a PSD accompany the wife in a stressful environment (like a first time prison visit) XXXX

    PSDs are specially trained to sense physical triggers in the onset of a severe anxiety or panic episode and also provide provide comfort and familiarity in a stressful environment. Plenty of information on PSDs on the internet.

    PSDs can significantly reduce the amount of medication one has to take to help cope with these episodes.

    Mental health should not be a mocking issue in today’s world, as this makes people reluctant to seek help. I know this story is going to bring on mostly “tough luck” comments, especially the way it is written.

  25. Unbelievable says:


    • Anonymous says:

      No dafter than the illegal migrant in the UK who fought deportation on the grounds that separating him from his pet cat was a breach of his rights under ECHR Article 8.

      • Anglin says:

        Out of curiosity; did he win?

        • Jotnar says:

          It wasn’t a cat – it was an unmarried partner. The story was originally misreported, and has been repeated thereafter, including by the new UK PM, on the assumption its true. Original case of course rather relevant to Cayman!

        • Anonymous says:

          Anglin, I think the answer is ‘yes’. Can’t find it using Google but that’s my recollection.

      • Anonymous says:

        That is such a misunderstood story, the “pet cat” was an extremely minor point in that case, one of a whole list of evidence to show that the person had a long term relationship in the UK with a person settled in the UK, the “cat” was hyped by the media and the now new PM of the UK Ms. May in her speech, made to a Party Conference, which she had to admit later was wholly exaggerated, but that it was exaggerated and quite frankly wrong and misleading never made the headlines.

        The case concerned a man who came to the UK as a student and was refused leave to remain it was NOT deportation on grounds of criminal conviction. The immigration tribunal allowed his appeal, finding that it would be disproportionate on Article 8 (private and family life) grounds to remove him because he had a long-term relationship with a person settled in the UK and they had lived together for four years. The reference to the cat was one detail amongst many provided by the couple as evidence of the genuineness of their long-term relationship. The judge ruled that it would not be reasonable for his partner to move to Bolivia to live with him as the partner’s father was seriously ill and he was helping to take care of him. The judge also relied on a former Home Office policy which said that if an individual lived in the UK with a settled partner for two years or more without enforcement action being taken against them, they were entitled to leave to remain. The Home Office appealed but the senior immigration judge upheld the decision on the basis that the former Home Office policy, although it had since been withdrawn, still applied in this case (due to the date of the initial decision).

        All other factors in the original determination, including ownership of the cat, were deemed “immaterial”.

        See this for some clarification

        • Anonymous says:

          1:20 The fact remains that it was still cited in the case so presumably a respected member of the legal profession thought it relevant to Article 8 – are you questioning their judgment?

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