Watson’s appeal ‘wholly without merit’

| 14/09/2017 | 49 Comments
Cayman News Service

Canover Watson leaving court after sentencing

(CNS): In rejecting Canover Watson’s appeal against his conviction in the CarePay corruption case, the Appeal Court of the Cayman Islands reinforced the trial judge’s assertion that, as a member of a statutory authority board, he was indeed a public officer and his position was within the ambit of the Anti-Corruption Law. The panel found that all the grounds of appeal were “wholly without merit”, including his claim that he was a “volunteer” and therefore outside the corruption legislation.

Watson was charged with six offences and was found guilty by a jury on two counts of conspiracy to defraud, one count of conflict of interest, one count of fraud on government and one count of breach of trust but he was acquitted of money laundering. The trial judge, Justice Michael Mettyear, handed him a seven-year jail sentence in February 2016.

The crimes had taken place when Watson was chairman of the Health Services Authority Board, and the corruption charges against Watson rested on whether or not he was a “public officer”.

His lead defence lawyer in the appeal, Tom Price QC, who did not represent him at trial, argued that he was a “volunteer”, since the stipend he received as HSA chair ($100 per meeting and around $15,000 in total) was merely to cover his expenses. It could not be regarded as “emolument” for a public officer, as defined in law, and the judge had therefore erred in his direction to the jury.

The panel rejected this argument, noting that the term “emolument …was easily wide enough to encompass stipend”. The judges also found that there was no evidence that he was paid on the basis of reimbursement for expenses but on a set basis. Under HSA law, he was entitled to that payment, “and that makes him a public officer, whether or not he was in fact paid”.

The trial judge had stated in his directions to the jury that, as a matter of law, Watson was a public officer, and the panel agreed, saying, “He was entitled to direct the jury as he did.”

In another submission argued in court, Price said the trial judge had not been sufficiently clear in his written summation to the jury regarding the conspiracy to defraud charges and that “the jury may have been confused by the judge’s direction”. However, the appeal court found that the judge’s summation had been “crystal clear” as well as “helpful and correct”.

Arguments that Watson had not received a fair trial because his defence had not had sufficient time to examine new evidence that came to light during the trial were also roundly dismissed. All the data on Watson’s desktop at his place of employment, Admiral Administration Limited, had been deleted at Watson’s request and was thought to be lost forever.

However, halfway through the trial a flash drive containing a backup of all that data was unexpectedly found and was used as evidence against him. “Given the implication of this material, the very late disclosure was unfair to the applicant” and made the verdict unsafe, Price said.

But after listening to the sequence of events by Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran, who had also led the prosecution in the trial, the appeal judges found that Watson had indeed been given sufficient time to study the data “and would have been given more time if he had asked”.

The skeletal arguments for appeal that were not argued in court included that the defence had not had time to study 20 boxes of material taken from Watson’s home, which was also rejected. Moreover, the appeal court noted, the boxes came from his house so he could reasonably expect to know what was in them.

And a submission that the number of emails the investigative officers had taken from Admiral, generated using a key word search, was too small and there may have been other emails that could have been used in his defence was described as “wholly unrealistic”.

Watson had also submitted that the adverse publicity had led to an unfair trial. A few days after the beginning of the CarePay trial, Jeffrey Webb, his absent co-defendant, pleaded guilty to corruption charges in the US as part of the massive FIFA scandal, which was covered extensively both locally and internationally.

However, the jury members had been instructed by the judge to disregard those guilty pleas and told they had no bearing on the CarePay case. They were also told to put any rumours and gossip out of mind. The appeal court further noted that Watson had even tried to use the publicity to his own end by trying to shift more blame on Webb.

The appeal hearing began at 10:am Thursday morning and concluded just two and a half hours later with the court rejecting all grounds of appeal and Watson being returned to HMP Northward.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Young Caymanian of which Year?

    • Anonymous says:

      Remember his speech the following year at the event? It seemed obvious then he was an arrogant ne’er-do-well.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Was this legally aided? If so, why are lawyers allowed to waste funds on meritless appeals?

    • Veritas says:

      8.22am Yes he did receive legal aid and no doubt his QC was richly rewarded at the taxpayer’s expense.Why this frivolous appeal was allowed to proceed only Government can answer.

  3. Anonymous says:

    He’s Christian, but how could this happen?

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t think people living in a parasite tax haven that causes miseries to the world’s poor can have much concept of Christianity.

  4. anonymous says:

    I feel so sorry for his parents.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It appears he had a lot going for him, but was consumed by pure greed. It is a hard lesson but unfortunately, he brought it on himself.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Does the government ever confiscate property of these criminals? If not why not? If so, who ends up with them…never seem to see any auctions….maybe just uncaught crooks get them.

  7. Anonymous says:

    He should have had time added to his sentence. What a tool.

  8. Cayman Free Loaders Assoc says:

    These Chumps driving around here like they are kings when they were disciples of Jeff and Canover need to be fired from their jobs some now big up at the government convicted felons working for political crooks seem to be play of the day in these islands.

  9. Gov't watcher says:

    These Canover and Jeff webb minions need to stop being rehired in Government jobs!

    • Sharkey says:

      Gov’t watcher , you have a very valid point here in saying that these minions should not be able to be hired back in gov or in the private sector. I think that once you have been convicted of crimes such as Canover and Webb has , they should be labeled as crooks , criminals , felon , which is to prevent you from getting the job in places where you can do it over again . They need to have to start by cleaning toilets. Then we would have a cleaner society.

      With being labeled and knowing that you can be labeled as above , you would think twice before you commit the crime to get labeled . And if you don’t think twice then pay the price .

  10. The Enforcer says:

    Frivolous appeals must result in a doubling of sentence.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Say hello to Courtney for me!

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is a landmark case for the Cayman Islands. We have been allowing this class of white collar criminals free reign over CIG money up until this point. Who’s up next? Maybe take a look at whoever it was that appointed Canover to a position where he could get his hands in the cookie jar. Shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.

    • Anonymous says:

      Question is: what about the rest of um?

      There are more out there, in high positions. Go get um!

    • Anonymous says:

      Start with CIFA and find out where the money went. It cannot be too difficult.

    • Caymanian says:

      Here is what I want to know….

      As I understand it companies were set up to move these monies. Locals were used as directors where are they? Others were connected to other locals here and why are they not being strung up? Others who are involved set up businesses after the fact are they being investigated for possibly laundering the money via businesses?

      There are tons of questions out there.

      • Chris Johnson says:

        You are partly correct. Local construction companies received monies from both FIFA and CIFA. It was not properly accounted for in the the accounts and three audit firms missed the improper accounting. For example the accounts show that the office at Newlands was CI$750,000 which works out at CI$500 a square foot. You can find a condo on SMB for less than that.
        Probably in excess of $1.5m is unaccounted for from my investigations of building the facility at Newlands and certain creditors have yet to be paid.
        The whole thing is a total farce which Cayman does not need. The sooner the matter is fully investigated the better but big names will emerge.
        CIFA needs sue the bad guys who still have money and invest it in football. The way that can be done is to fire the current president and his henchmen.

  13. Anonymous says:

    ha ha ha….?

  14. Sharkey says:

    Keep him in hotel California HMP , that’s where he needs to be .

  15. Anonymous says:

    Crooked yardy should stay in prision then deported to JA!!

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s your young Caymanian leadership award winner son, guess he wasn’t considered a yardie when that title was being bestowed

      • Realistic says:

        That hurt more but we couldnt put him in prison for it. Yardie being called Caymanian

    • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

      Yardie??? If my memory serves me correctly, he was “Young Caymanian of The Year” some years ago, or, certainly nominated!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Awesome news. Now someone go after him again as ALL the companies he owned locally never paid pension for employees!

  17. Anonymous says:

    I met this guy through his legitimate job…he was definitely one of the old school boys who thought the rules didn’t apply to everyone. Still waiting for the other two of the fab four to fall.

    • Anonymous says:

      When I came to work in the Cayman Islands he was one of the first significant people I met. That’s back in 2006 and at the time he was handling the funding coming to local cricket from the Stanford 20/20 series. Wonder where all that went?

      • anonymous says:

        South, mate. But that 20/20 cricket series was really good. Traditional cricket matches are a bit like watching a kettle boil over a two day period for most of us, but Stanford’s approach was most invigorating, almost – but not quite – equal to the “double-tea bagging” I’ve done occasionally in the morning when I feel a little rebellious/non-conformist.Yes, I know it’s risky, but……….. what the heck!

      • Jotnar says:

        And of course the money Alan Stanford supplied in the first place was also stolen. Ironic.

  18. Jeff says:

    Throw away the key!

    • Sharkey says:

      His crime and partner would say that, Imagen what I would say . I hope that was Jeff Webb that said that .

  19. Anonymous says:

    What a waste of brains. His life could be so different.

  20. Anonymous says:

    And presumably this farce was all funded by legal aid?

  21. Anonymous says:

    So sad to another smart Caymanian go down the drain. This man had everything going good for him whst could have overcome him ?

  22. BELONGER says:

    He should have got 14 years instead of 7 years.

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