Immigration boss cleared in 3-year case

| 23/08/2019 | 51 Comments
Cayman News Service
Jeannie Lewis

(CNS): Jeannie Lewis (59), who was the assistant chief immigration officer for compliance when she was arrested three years ago, was cleared of all charges on Friday. Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn acquitted Lewis after the crown failed to convince her that Lewis knew her sons were dealing drugs from her home and that an illegal immigrant, Antonio Bullard, had been staying there with her knowledge and implicit permission.

Since it began, a catalog of legal issues surrounded the case that caused numerous delays to the start of the trial, which was adjourned several times. The immediate conviction and deportation of Bullard, whose evidence in the case had to be admitted in his absence, had also caused challenges for the case.

Lewis has been suspended on full pay from her post at immigration, where she had served for thirty years before her arrest, as she awaited the hearing. But the verdict was finally delivered today and Lewis was able to walk free from the court with her name cleared.

Magistrate Gunn said that she found Lewis’ account that she was not aware her sons were dealing drugs plausible, and while CCTV footage from the home showed that they were, the crown had not been able to demonstrate that Lewis was present when this was happening or could have been aware that it was taking place.

She also felt that Lewis had no reason to question the status of what she believed was a friend of her adult son. She said she could not believe that Lewis would have had reason to suspect that Bullard had landed illegally, given her own experiences of illegal immigrants, or imagine her own son would take such a step, given her job.

The court had heard that although five other people were in the house at the time the police raided the home in Savannah, she was the only person arrested in connection with Bullard. During the trial it became apparent that this was based on the feelings of one police officer, who made an assumption that she knew the man because he saw Lewis take off a pair of slippers and pass them to him at the time of the bust.

However, when she took the stand Lewis explained that when the police raided her home in the early morning of 25 August 2016 and ordered everyone outside, she had slipped her feet into the nearest pair of slippers from a pile on the porch. But when Bullard had pointed out they were his, she simply took them off and passed them over.

Regarding the evidence presented by the crown, based largely on CCTV footage from Lewis’ own home cameras, the magistrate said she was not convinced that on the few occasions when Bullard and Lewis were shown on the back porch at the same time and had brief exchanges that any of it was incriminating, as she acquitted Lewis and discharged her from the court.

Lewis should now be entitled to return to her post. However, since she was placed on required leave, the immigration department has been abolished, with the enforcement arm moved to the new Customs and Border Control unit and the issues of work permits and legal immigration shifted to the new WORC Agency.

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Comments (51)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Dear Jeannie, now hold your head up high and look everyone in the eye.
    Don’t look back. Learn to forget this nightmare you have gone through.
    Forget about those who caused you such harm.
    Look forward. Look to the future.
    Rebuild your life and be happy.
    Your family and friends and many others whom you will never know, need you.
    All the best.

  2. Anonymous says:

    She can now look forward to a handsome payoff similar to the DEH director complete with a non disclosure agreement.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Is anyone in the legal department ever going to be held accountable? They seem to destroy the reputations of good Caymanians with the same reckless abandon of CMR.

    • Anonymous says:

      Happy for you Jeannie. Glad this is over — although I know it must have exerted great stress.

      It seems to me there should be some additional compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured over three years.

      And after 30 years of devoted service to your country! Painful.

    • Kev :)) says:

      How CMR came into this???

      • Anon says:

        Because The legal department on this occasion seem to be as reliable as CMR who get it wrong all the time and are equally as responsible in trying to destroy people’s lives

    • Anonymous says:

      All the time. But Franz Manderson needs to be held accountable for some. Especially the politically motivated ones.

  4. Anonymous says:

    WOW!…..she has been suspended for the past 3 years on full pay? Can this country get anymore ridiculous? SMH

  5. Timothy Eastman says:

    Why did this take 3 years? To me, that is unacceptable.

  6. Time Longa Den Rope says:

    Well, well, well; what a zapappa for Franzie and the big boys club.
    Gary Wong was able to stay in his job throughout the almost 5 years that it took our elite justice system to deal with him.
    But Ms Lewis, who was seemingly of no special value to Franzie and the big boys club, had to be removed from the organisation. She seemingly wasn’t someone who would cut slack for the people that they want slack cut for. That’s why she needed to be removed, and putting her on ‘required leave’ achieved that immediately. It’s also why the delays of the justice system were acceptable; she’s already out of the way so no rush.
    Remember Linda Evans? Same scheme, different person.
    Her exoneration today proves why the system of paying civil servants such as her while the justice system fiddles and twiddles is necessary. Where would this lady have taken her skills and experience gained over 30 years of border administration and got fair compensation in the private sector? No where. And why should her life be turned upside down financially by some smart-ass police officer seeing her give a guy a pair of slippers, and the brilliant folks at the DPP’s office agreeing with him that “Yeah, we got her”.
    Did they really believe that whenever she met a friend of her sons that didn’t sound Caymanian, she should get the friend’s name and check him out on the immigration system? Did they not know that it is against the rules at immigration to use the immigration system for such personal reasons? Didn’t they know that doing so can be grounds for dismissal, and has been grounds for dismissal?
    Having sullied her name and reputation with these unsubstantiated charges which the Court has rejected, this lady should receive her full salary and benefits until she reaches retirement age, which is now 65, and she should reap her full pension and benefits thereafter. They have paid out well over $300K over the past 3 years while she sat at home; what’s another $700K-1M over the next 7,8 or 9 years until she’s 65? It’s the way the game is played in the new World Class Civil Service!!
    Right Franzie?

    • Anonymous says:

      Do not forget Kim Davies. Same crap, same ministry, different victim.

    • Anonymous says:

      7:48. Take your meds.

    • Anonymous says:

      7:48. You sure you okay? You are so out of touch with reality. Get help!

      • In Touch says:

        What’s unreal about being critical of a system that costs us the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars while it takes 3 years to bring a public officer before the Court only to get all charges thrown out? I think 748a was spot on with what he/she had to say. This nonsense needs to stop.

        • Anonymous says:

          In touch. If you are so in touch tell us how many times this case was adjourned at the request of the defense and not the DPP.

          • In Touch says:

            Obviously not enough times for the DPP to figure out that they didn’t have a case.

          • Anonymous says:

            They did not have a case from the beginning. If the DPP was smart enough, they would have dropped all charges. The defense requesting adjournments have nothing to do with this.

            • Anonymous says:

              It is an office where they are too arrogant to admit when they have got a matter wrong. They prefer egg on their faces.

              • Anonymous says:

                And that’s because it’s not their money being paid out but the country’s. Their pocket nah feel a thing so they don’t care whose life they ruin

          • Anonymous says:

            And that would be because the defense knew damn well that the DPP had nothing at all on her. The DPP should have done the right thing and withdrawn the charges long time ago

      • Anonymous says:

        Really? So you prefer to believe that the DPP maintained these charges for 3 years without any outside interference even though they didn’t have sufficient evidence to survive contact with a magistrate and had their first round of charges in relation to the firearms possession thrown out as well? That requires not only complete prosecutorial incompetence, but active work to avoid the matter being heard. Major settlement coming down the track methinks.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why not put every Caymanian on full pay until sixty five and then full pension for life, if you feel that way.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Police need to stop arresting off of feelings and assumptions and converting the public into judging people along with them instead of going off of the law and facts. Don’t forget common sense. Now they end up looking like complete fools in the end. Feel bad for this country with all the corruption. This is completely ridiculous.

    Happy for Jeannie! Good luck in your future endeavors. Wishing you all the best and congratulations!!!

  8. Elvis says:

    3 years? Full pay?
    When is it my turn ?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wow, what a set up! I am so happy for this lady..Even the press destroyed her reputation by inserting their biased opinions..She should sue the pants of the RCIPS..The Commissioner of Police if he is worth his salt would have his officer investigated and in fact Ms. Lewis should make a complaint to the ombudsman..

  10. Anonymous says:

    You go girl ,,,God is in control .

  11. Anonymous says:

    Disgraceful, by the DPP

  12. Anonymous says:

    It is as if a few years ago, someone decided to destroy the key players in the immigration department. The same time. Jeannie, Linda, and Kim all took a hit at fundamentally the same time. All have been cleared, but have had their careers destroyed. Any accountability?

    • Anonymous says:

      Any civil servant that prefers to follow the law independent of their political masters, and without regard to whose toes they step on, gets destroyed. Those civil servants that continue to steadfastly follow the law, without fear or favour, are true heroes. An investigation as to who is responsible for decapitating the department of immigration should commence. This cannot be a coincidence.

      • Anonymous says:

        Dont leave out the useless Labour Department. They do nothing and only want robots working there. The office in the Brac been closed for more than 5 years. Politicians dont want it to work

    • Anonymous says:

      They were in the way of of corruption and nepotism. They were removed. Mission accomplished.

  13. Anonymous says:

    So happy she was cleared of these ridiculous charges. Hope she gets all the money she deserves now!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Good for her! What a waste!

  15. Johnny Rotten says:

    A real witch hunt and total waste of legal resources this was. Anyway, I’m glad this ended well and that monkey is off your back.

    Hope you can now move on and this be forever forgotten.

    May you have the best of luck from now on!

  16. Incredulous says:

    Were her sons convicted on drug dealing charges?.

    • Anonymous says:

      They were not seen to be interfering with any powerful interests attempts to ignore aspects of our immigration laws. Perhaps no one saw any need to proceed against them. Linda, Kim, and Jeannie tried to play it by the book. How naive of them.

    • Anonymous says:

      And guns.

      • Anonymous says:

        Son was acquitted remember. DNA on the gun turned out to be that of the illegal immigrant who unfortunately they deported before the DNA results came back!

  17. Anonymous says:

    time for a class action lawsuit against cig and the dpp for thier gross incompetence

    • Anonymous says:

      Since everyone who made the flawed decisions or was responsible for them has been promoted to a higher level of incompetence, and the Cayman taxpayer will have to foot the bill, you may now proceed.

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