Home-invasion suspect to wait 4 months for verdict

| 28/11/2019
Elmer Wright, Cayman News Service
Elmer Wright

(CNS): Elmer Wright (25), who has been charged with a catalogue of crimes relating to a violent home invasion in Prospect in 2017, has to wait four months for a verdict after the crown and defence lawyers wrapped up the case Wednesday. Wright was the only one of four men accused of the crime who remained in the dock at the end of the trial. Two brothers have pleaded guilty to their part and a third man has never been charged. Wright, who claims he was not involved, was tried by a visiting judge sitting without a jury who will not be back in Cayman until March 2020.

After Patrick Moran, the acting director of public prosecutions, and defence lawyer Keith Myers delivered the closing submissions to Justice Roger Chapple, the judge said he would need time to consider the case, which has been running for months as a result of significant legal and other related challenges.

Justice Chapple, who is returning to the UK in a matter of days, said he wanted to deliver his decision in person and not via video link and would therefore deliver the judgment on his return next year.

Wright, who is currently in jail serving time for an unrelated matter, continued to deny the allegations, even after one of his co-defendants, who pleaded guilty not long after being charged, made a decision to testify against Wright shortly after the trial started.

According to his attorney, Wright was not there and was not involved. “Simple put …his defence is it wasn’t me,” Myers told the court, as he outlined Wright’s position on the evidence against him.

The suspect has explained away DNA evidence tying him to the crime as a result of transfer.

He claims that his clothes, which were found after the robbery along with items taken from the victims, were taken and worn by the perpetrators, whom he accepted he knew, and that messages on his phone discussing the crime were sent by other people involved who must have also taken his phone.

He further claims that the evidence from his alleged co-defendant, Caine Thomas, was a “pack of lies” to help him get a more lenient sentence for his conviction.

But the crown said the evidence against Wright was overwhelming even before his co-defendant agreed to enter the witness box and corroborate the existing evidence. Moran said, “The evidence implicating Elmer Wright is very powerful and the evidence given by Caine Thomas was credible and supported the other evidence.”

During the course of the trial, in which Wright changed attorneys part-way through, security was beefed up to extreme levels at the courthouse, with snipers on the roofs of surrounding office blocks, fully armed RCIPS swot teams patrolling the front and back of the court, and armed officers inside the building and court room, as well as air support from the helicopter, because the RCIPS said it had intelligence suggesting that someone might try to spring Wright from jail.

Alongside Caine Thomas (20), his brother Nikel Thomas (24) also pleaded guilty to several other charges relating to the crime spree. The fourth man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was recently released from HMP Northward after charges were dropped against him in regards to an unrelated allegation.

The crown’s case against the four men is that they began their crime spree by stealing an Honda Civic from the car park of the Marriott Hotel on the night of 16 June 2017. They first tried and failed to break into a house on the West Bay Road. Then, in the early morning hours of the next day, they headed over to a house in the Patrick’s Island area of Prospect as they believed the owners were very wealthy.

Armed with guns and a hammer with their faces covered, Caine Thomas, the unnamed suspect and Wright were said to have forced their way into the home and tied up the owners with duct tape. After terrifying the couple and assaulting the man, they demanded valuables and made off with cash, jewellery and electronics in the stolen car driven by Nikel Thomas.

The men then abandoned the stolen Honda and hid the loot. The next morning Caine Thomas was given all the clothes the robbers had worn during the crime spree in a plastic garbage bag and told by the unnamed man to get rid of them. But the novice criminal forgot about the bag.

As he drove around town running various errands, he was directed to pull over by officers but instead sped off, leading to a chase that ended in a crash.

Once caught with the robbers’ clothes, including a distinctive Halloween mask which was on the CCTV of the home invasion, Thomas was arrested. In turn, all of his co-defendants were also rounded up, which led to three of them being charged.

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