Illegal domestic worker gets 30 days in jail

| 06/09/2016 | 45 Comments

(CNS): A Jamaican woman who admitted overstaying, working without a permit and doctoring an official stamp in her passport was jailed Tuesday for 30 days, while her unidentified local employer was reportedly “dealt with administratively”, the Summary Court heard. Dawn Ann-Marie Adams’ immigration crimes came to light after she was involved in a road crash and charged with traffic offences. Police found Adams had altered an old immigration stamp to make it appear that she had a valid permit until 2017. Investigators then discovered she was in Cayman illegally, having overstayed for more than a year, employed as a domestic worker without a permit.

However, nothing was said by the prosecution about the culpability of her local employers. Crown counsel told the presiding magistrate, Valdis Foldats, that the employer had been “dealt with administratively”, implying that the immigration department had levied a fine.

Representing Adams pro bono, defence attorney Dennis Brady told the court that the issue was a classic case of things escalating out of control. Adams was a person of previous good character and she had worked legally in the past for six years without incident. He said she had tried to do the right thing with her more recent job, giving over her papers and receiving assurances that things were being dealt with.

But she admitted not following up and making the “ridiculous mistake” of doctoring her passport to try and appear legitimate, he said.

Brady said that in her police interview Adams had spoken truthfully and accepted her fate, and when she was asked why she had altered the stamp, she told police, ”I did it when the police stopped me …. I don’t know why I did it, I just panicked.”

Brady said she was a hard-working woman who had come to Cayman to try and make a better life for her teenage children than the poverty she had endured in Jamaica. Adams was not used to being involved in crime, the lawyer said.

Aware that the crime called for a custodial sentence, he urged Magistrate Foldats to give the shortest possible time as she still has children to support, but the fact that she would be deported and never allowed to work in Cayman again was further punishment. Since her arrest she has depended on the support of her church as she had been unable to finance herself.

Brady told the court she had sullied her good character because she “felt trapped in the situation she was in and had no experience of crime”.

Accepting that the offending was out of character, Magistrate Foldats said the single mistake of fraud was compounded by the year of offending by working without a permit. Handing down what he called a short, sharp sentence of thirty-days for each of the crimes, he ordered them to run concurrently.

Foldats explained that the serious nature of the crime required a custodial sentence as a deterrent. While he said it was clear that Adams was aware that what she did was wrong, it was a message for others that such actions would be dealt with firmly.

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Category: Courts, Crime, Immigration

Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Reading some of these comments I just want to say that while it sucks that someone gets a jail sentence, albeit short, for such an act which some sees as simple, we cannot say that because a story is heartbreaking that we don’t follow the rule of law. Its like sin. There is no big sin and little sin. A crime is a crime and depending on what the prescribed penalties are then the criminal should pay. Yes I feel sorry for the woman but she should have resisted the urge to cheat the system. When you commit one act of deceit the chance of doing something else is greater. If you all really want to help her, start a Go Fund Me and put money in her hand for the rest of her life.

  2. Anonymous says:

    if the employer had followed the law she wouldn’t be in this mess. she was maybe paid 3 bucks an hour and told not to ask questions. 90% of the blame falls on the employer. Sadly all too often this is the case in Cayman…

  3. Anonymous says:

    The traffic offenses were not mentioned which almost certainly included, driving without license and without insurance which is common practice by expat workers.

    • Veritas says:

      Talking of traffic offences what happened to the vehicle examiner who smashed up a car while road testing it. As always with civil servants and these types of incidents, there is complete silence.

    • Anonymous says:

      But much more common by Caymanian drivers. Ask the police.

      • Anonymous says:

        But we have largest number of Jamaicans yet they are not largest number of persons with traffic offences, but when I see the number of cars, violating traffic laws and never stopped by police guess maybe it helps to have majority of cops from Jamaica who don’t want to give their country man a fine etc

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is because the people in charge of the system are wholly incompetent to operate it.

  5. Bush Master says:

    Clearly she knew that she was doing something wrong, and that’s why she tried to Doctor up her papers. And that is why she got a custodial sentence. Had it been the case that she was caught working without a legal work permit, then she would only be facing a fine and deportation. In my humble opinion the Judge made the correct decision, as well as the Immigration department by imposing the appropriate fines on the Employer. It’s most obvious that this Employer was not the original person who held a previous work permit for Ms Adams, based on what was said by Mr Brady in her defense. When he said that in her more recent job, she had tried to do the right thing by giving over her papers and receiving assurances that things were being dealt with. It’s also very obvious that she was well aware that no papers had been processed regarding a new work permit. Otherwise she would not have tried to falsify her passport. All individuals that are giving the privilege to be granted a work permit, should do the right thing when that permit expires. If you haven’t secured another work permit within the time that you have been given. Don’t act out of desperation and break the law by overstaying. Return to your country and try again, because for sure you will be granted a new work permit. Cayman Islands Government has to continue feeding the monster that they have created with the work permit system. It’s their new cash cow! Do the math. Population = 60,000 work permit holders = 24,000 plus.

    • Anonymous says:

      Work Permit cash cow??? Please tell me how!! I would agree if the minimum cost of a work permit was $4,000 but for what the average permit cost the government is at a loss and does not break even when you factor in infrastructure and other services that government have to provide due to the population increase.

  6. Nunya says:

    I find it interesting that no one has mentioned how that domestic workers will find someone to take out a work permit only for them to stay on the island and does not actually employ them. The worker then freelances getting a “days work” as they call it.

    These cases are wrong too but it happens and it happens often. Just have a browse on eCay in the domestic helper section – if you look carefully and read between the lines you can spot some of them. It would not take much for enforcement to weed these out – BUT then don’t want to be accused of entrapment. Entrapment? They’re not the ones posting their availability for work. So people skirt the system everyday and work illegally because enforcement is weak!!

    At any rate – yes employers should not me taking out permits when they have no intention of actually employing that person – but it’s a shared deception. I find it very hard to believe that this lady didn’t know she was overstaying. She obviously didn’t try to leave the island during the time since the work permit expired and her actions of doctoring the passport proves she was aware she was not legal. Jamaicans are quite savvy in these matters (as they work the system), there is no way she could have thought that it takes a year to sort out a work permit grant. And if she didn’t know originally I would wager that someone in her network would have advised. Bottom line she knew she was here illegally and she doctored her passport.

    As an employer, I’m also aware that I will be fined if I hire someone who’s work permit is not in my name either solely or shared. When I interview potential helpers, the first question I ask is what their status on the island is. Granted not all are rule followers, but I believe the Judge acted reasonably. As another person posted ignorance in no excuse of the law – everyone knows that – so if she was in doubt she should have done her research and did what was right.

    Personally, I think the system is broken and think that there should be another type of work permit for domestic helpers that will allow them to work in a freelance type set up. It would reduce the number of people taking out work permits in name only and allow the domestic helper’s that are trust worthy to work legally on the island. The main employer would declare how many persons the helper would be allowed to work for up front and the fees would change based on that number (that way Gov’t won’t loose that revenue). Numbers identified could not exceed that of what a person could reasonably/physically do – (e.g. 6 persons, assuming the possibility they could work for a different person once a week – or something to that effect – but hopefully you get the idea).

    Of course I could suggest we leave these jobs for Caymanians – but we all know that this in not work that many Caymanians want to do.

    My 50 cents – as I have appeared to babble on longer than 2 cents worth. :p

  7. Anonymous says:

    Can a lawyer or someone who knows how the FOI or laws work please see if we can get the name of the employer published. CNS, Compass? This is so wrong.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Wow! The employer who can afford it, gets a fine. The employee, who cannot afford it, gets a criminal record and a custodial sentence. Way to go . . . not!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I would like to make a $ contribution to this poor lady who can no-longer work and will forever have a criminal conviction. Pehaps her good employer could share her bank account for online donations?

  10. East End Resident says:

    This seems very unfair. The employer is the one most guilty in this case. The poor woman was just doing her job, trying to make a living, and stayed in her job despite her employer failing to renew her permit – thereby asking/forcing her to work illegally. No doubt she was desperate, didn’t know what to do – I really feel for her that she has to go to jail for this. The employer is the one responsible for this and should be the one in jail. The fact there were little repercussions for the unnamed employer only fuels the fire of suspicion and confirms the worst concerns of the population that there are one set of rules for the rich and influential in society and another set of rules (and punishments) for those least able to defend themselves. Despicable.
    Would a FOI request reveal the employer? I really want to see this taken further and for that person to be held publicly accountable. It’s time to step up Cayman and no longer stand for this corruption in society, government and our courts.

    • Anonymous says:

      Every work permit holder knows that you cannot work without having an approved work permit. Ignorance of this fact is no excuse. Everyone accepting employment in this country has the right to go to Immigration and confirm their on island status. There is absolutely no excuse. She was wrong and she was trying to cheat the system. She needs to go home and try to make a life for herself there. People like her are not welcomed, they are cheaters and breaking laws is illegal, her Church people should have told her that, and not condone her illegal activity.

      • East End Resident says:

        So people like her are not welcome in Cayman. People who break the law you mean? Her employer also knowingly and willingly broke the law too and forced their employee into that situation. There is absolutely no excuse for their situation/actions either. They were also trying to knowingly cheat the system and caused her to go to jail as a result. So if that person could also be publicly named you would feel that they should get the same punishment? TIme in jail and banishment from the Cayman Islands, regardless of who they are? I completely agree – there should have been equal punishment in this case. Someone must know who this is – please name them here.

      • Jotnar says:

        All the points you make apply to the employer as well yet you make no comment on the posters main point – the employer gets off scot free

      • Anonymous says:

        Wow….I can only hope that one day someone has the same amount of compassion for you that you have for this lady.

        Caymankind at its best.

    • Anonymous says:

      But there is no enforcement going on…really?

      The immigration law allows for offenders to be dealt with administratively. This allows the court to deal with more serious cases and not clog up the court system with less serious offences.

      In this case it is obviously that the forgery matter was the most serious.

      I see posters complaining about court cases taking too long. Then when the government takes very sensible action to address the issue everyone complains.

      Thinking is not a crime folks.

      Why don’t you FOI the number of employers and persons dealt with administratively and the penalties imposed. You will be blown away by the numbers. But wait there is no enforcement. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • Bush Master says:

      Obviously you didn’t get a true understanding of what you read. When you say that her employer was asking/forcing her to work illegally. No one was forcing her to work she chose to do so knowingly. Read my lips! She tried to falsify her papers so she dam well knew what she was doing! There are so many more out there that are doing the same thing.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Had she committed a ‘White Collar Crime’ she would have more than likely been given a slap on the hand.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Donald Trump for US President, President Trump!

  13. Anonymous says:

    She should be sharing the cell with her employer! As always, only in Cayman, is why these offences repeats themselves because the employee is always deemed the offender whilst the employer gets off with a slap in the wrist!
    Will Immigration refuse a work permit for this horrid employer?
    Wanna bet they won’t?
    But time and God……..hold on…….the bucket goes to the well but 99th time the bottom drops out!
    Yea we see how the mighty is starting to drop…pictures and all…….Hold on……Change is coming……..
    New brrom sweeps clean even the corners and cobwebs will be removed!!
    Cronyism, eliteism, corruption of all kinds,.racism, discrimination all will be removed……Changes is coming!!

  14. wannabeCastro says:

    Let me get this right. This woman is here working, albeit illegal, but working, and making a living, not being a meneace to society and we need to make an example out of her to deter other would be offenders, but the POS scumbag that molested the little 5 year old girl and drugged, raped and recorded a teenager, gets a reduced sentence because he pleaded guilty??!!! GTFOH with that madness!That is exactly the kind of criminal we SHOULD be making an example of and those are the types of crime you want to prosecute to the fullest extent (add a little extra) to deter future would be offenders.
    This has got to be the most ridiculous thing I have come across in the last few days. Makes me so ANGRY!

    • Jotnar says:

      Falsifying a passport is a serious offence and 30 days is is big concession by the Court. She got a fair deal. A for the other case if you don’t discount for guilty pleas you have everything go to trial which is expensive and risks acquittal. The deterrent is factored into the sentence. Would you prefer we spent 100K on a trial so he got another 3 years in jail which we would also have to pay for?

  15. Anonymous says:

    This screams “cover up” as far as the identity of the employer. I will remain convinced, until I am proven wrong, that the employer was someone of influence, and affluence. This lady’s name is given in full and the employers name is not mentioned. JUSTICE FOR ALL.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Name and shame employer…in other countries (including UK) employing illegals is a criminal offense.

    • Anonymous says:

      As it is here, but also in the UK doctoring a passport stamp (which she did) attracts a minimum 12 month prison sentence. This is no angel.

  17. Anonymous says:

    so who is the employer….. this stinks to me!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Hats off to Dennis Brady for providing a defence to this lady pro bono, that she could not afford. Although she did wrong she is clearly not a ‘criminal’ in the traditional sense and she deserved representation to state her case. Thank you Mr. Brady.

    • Anonymous says:

      Really? Not a criminal! When you commit a crime I guess that makes you a saint not a criminal.

      • Anonymous says:

        But the real criminal is the employer who, for some unexplained although obvious reason, is enjoying anonymity.

      • Rock Stone says:

        “Let he who is without Sin cast the first stone”.
        What a truly Christian society we live in.
        The sentence was reasonable & justified, although sadly necessary.
        This poor lady was desperate, and the real crime is that her employer took advantage of her desparation and she ended up the worse for it.
        However, as we don’t have all of the facts (which admittedly smells like a cover-up), we must have faith in our Court system which did.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually she is a criminal in the traditional sense. She has committed fraud and lied to the authorities and illegally earned money, which as it is the proceeds of crime, also makes her a money launderer.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I would like to know who she worked for.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Why does immigration not notice when people fail to leave on expiry of their permissions and act then? There are many hundreds of persons here with expired permissions.

    The employer should count themselves lucky to not be in the same position, and I hope the leniency they received is only because they did not actively doctor the passport. Otherwise they should be treated the same way as the employee they kept here unlawfully.

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