Crown seeks ban and jail for Hill

| 26/11/2020 | 153 Comments
Cayman News Service
Sandra Hill

(CNS): Crown prosecutor Darlene Oko pressed a judge to ban Sandra Hill, the owner of Cayman Marl Road, from the internet and to lock her up for bullying local businessman, Matthew Leslie, on a social media podcast. In a sentence hearing Thursday, following Hill’s conviction in August for misusing an ICT network, Oko argued that the offence was so bad the court should issue an order restricting Hill from broadcasting online and impose jail time.

Oko painted a picture of a Hill as a defiant and disobedient person who had demonstrated an egregious pattern of conduct toward Leslie and had shown no remorse, despite the conviction. The only way to change her behaviour was to send her to prison and restrict her ability to broadcast, sending a deterrent message not just to the broader community but to Hill directly.

Defending herself and making submissions on her own behalf without an attorney, Hill argued that the crown’s position fundamentally misrepresented the case. The issues relating to Leslie in the podcast and the allegations against him were not some specific, targetted vendetta against him personally but part of a broader goal raising issues of public interest that were not being addressed.

She said there was nothing unique about what Leslie had charged was harassment, as many other public figures have found themselves the subject of Marl Road podcasts and been called out for their behaviour. She also noted that previous articles about Leslie whch did not involve the sexual predator allegations were part of legitimate and official complaints about him and his business dealings and therefore the subject of legitimate news articles.

Hill claimed that the crown had also been quick to take everything Leslie had said as gospel regarding the accusations that she had continued to post stories about him in defiance of the court, without checking. Hill gave examples where it was clear the claims were unfounded but prosecutors had taken what he said at face value.

As Hill painted a picture for the judge of what Cayman Marl Road was, she pointed out that the sources and content are not official but that was normal in the modern media landscape. She said CMR had contributed to the change in local media and that even the Compass, which she said the prosecutor had held up as an example of good media, was now publishing podcasts and utilizing social media much more.

While she said she had learned things through this experience and she would do things differently were she to do it again, she admitted being passionate about what she did and the subjects of the podcast. Hill stood by her concerns that this case was about trying to control content and potential future publication.

Hill handed in around 60 character witnesses, and the judge also allowed her to call live witnesses. Local boxing hero, Charles Whittaker and MPs (formerly MLAs) Chris Saunders (BTW) and Kenneth Bryan (GTC), himself a former journalist, gave evidence as to Hill’s character and the importance of her website and the work she does.

All three men said Hill’s site was an important part of the community as she was willing to tackle taboo subjects that to date have not been addressed in the media. They said that she gave a voice to Caymanians and was willing to tackle the issues that concerned them.

The MPs also raised concerns about criminalising Hill for what to many looked like a civil case. The prosecutor asked them if she had called either of them a sexual predator or a paedophile and what they would have done. They both said they would have sued but not sought to criminalise a reporter.

Saunders went much further and made it clear that he believed justice was not being served, given that the content of the podcast, as far as he was concerned, was well-founded and that one of his own relatives had been a victim of solicitation by Leslie.

Both Saunders and Whittaker submitted that it appeared that the court had prosecuted the wrong person.

Following a full day of submissions, Justice Roger Chapple, who is presiding in the case, said he would need time to consider the sentence and bailed Hill to appear on 10 December, when he would deliver his ruling.


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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (153)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Lol. Okay Sandra. They keep going after you because you keep breaking the law. That makes you the village idiot. You are one of those real criminals that keep getting away. The only thing being outed is you. Try harder next time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Key word “reasonable”. CMR continue to be unreasonable and twists the “truth” to fit her version of the narrative. CNS for example may ruffle plenty feathers but I don’t see anyone trying to ban this site. Her followers should beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. If she dishes it she should be able to take it. And she should know that if she breaks the law there are consequences, something she lives by when she trashes every and anyone that upsets her. Evidently she believes this applies to everyone else other than her. That’s not free press or responsible journalism its harassment.

  3. Anonymous says:

    ban her for life and bring down her site,disgrace to journalism

  4. Anonymous says:

    I will be voting for who ever is going to extend the east west bypass. I cant be the only one who notice the slow moving train of cars after countryside shopping plaza.

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t like or agree with everything that is posted on CMR, however, state media controlled by our future oligarchs on standby is just on the horizon and much closer than most think.

      Silencing every media house that we don’t agree with or airs the dirty laundry of those that make the lives of the struggling even harder is not the solution. Even though you might not always like it, obsessive foul calling is not always a bad thing; especially in this era of false prophets, Trump-like cults and legions, and demons and deviants crying their own foul. I implore those seeking demise here need to look beyond their nose.

      If truly immoral or criminal activities are occurring, the assailants deserve to be called out by anyone who sees it. Criminals (especially these days) rarely out themselves, volunteer to be arrested or be held responsible for their actions even when caught red-handed, whether white collar or blue, public figures or not.

      To be honest, CMR has a history of unprofessional journalism and disrespect to parties affected by their style of covering some events and stories in the name of first reporting (fatal and non-fatal car accidents, drunken escapades, public slander etc.) with attempts at reform, given recent legal actions and is rightly due for a gut check. However, the devil you know (so to speak) is definitely much better than wolves in sheep’s clothing yet to be revealed to us all.

      A reasonable amount of free press and professional critical journalism is required in any democratic country to keep everyone in line with law and order and maintain basic civil rights and liberties for every individual.

      But if you have to have such a strong conviction to conceal your dirty deeds, criminal behaviors, and corruption toolbox that negatively affects the general public, you should think twice before doing them and be very afraid of any public, legal, and moral consequences that will follow over your shoulder.

      We should not have to question Crown prosecution, however given the cherry-picked Crown interventions that have taken place in recent times, what are the true motives here? Where was Crown prosecution each time laws were approved that either stripped Caymanians of understood birth rights or flew in the face of what the majority of citizens wanted? I wonder how a criminal case involving a certain Member of Parliament will be handled in the coming weeks!!

      A lot to consume but definitely some food for thought.

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