Court urged not to record Bush’s conviction

| 03/12/2020 | 191 Comments
Cayman News Service
Speaker McKeeva Bush

(CNS): A magistrate was urged not to record a conviction against House Speaker McKeeva Bush for what was said to be an “appalling” assault at a beach bar on 21 February on the female manager. Bush was described as “extremely intoxicated” and unable to recall most of the events. But the court saw CCTV footage and heard witness accounts of the violence, as well as a message sent by Bush soon afterwards where he called his victim “a mother f*#king lesbian”.

In an unexpected hearing on Thursday, as Bush was due to stand trial Monday having previously denied the charges, the veteran politician pleaded guiltily to two of three counts of assault and one of disorderly conduct.

However, Bush’s attorney, Michael Alberga, disputed the first assault count because this part of the 20-minute spree of violence by his client at the Coral Beach Bar on Seven Mile Beach was not as clear on the video footage as the other two assaults.

Alberga told the court that his client had “barely any recollection” of the night. Given that it was not clear what happened in some of the CCTV footage, the crown could allege anything, Alberga said, but his client was not in a position to dispute it, given his level of intoxication and lack of memory.

Alberga suggested that the footage could be interpreted to show the victim, Livia Kwong, spitting on and even assaulting Bush. But every time he was pressed, the lawyer stepped back from making the assertion that the victim had actually started the assault after Bush, who the video shows was clearly drunk, had fallen over.

This was the position that Bush had taken in a group WhatsApp message that was circulated between the parties involved and the bar owners later on the same night as the assault, where Bush claimed that Kwong had kicked him because he had made accusations about lesbians being in the bar.

Bush did not issue an apology until several days after the assault, and when he did, he had not accepted any guilt. The crown insisted that Bush now accept the case against him or go to trial.

However, Alberga argued that was not necessary because his client was very sorry, extremely remorseful and wanted to put the whole thing behind him. The lawyer said he just wanted the judge to be aware that the movements of Kwong could be interpreted in more than one way. He said the evidence might not be an indication of her helping Bush but assaulting him.

The crown’s case is based on the CCTV footage, witness statements from the victim and other staff members, as well as evidence of calls that Kwong had tried to make and messages sent, all of which supported her recollection of the night and pointed to Bush’s full culpability in the assault.

Director of Public Prosecutions Patrick Moran, who presented the case, said he wanted to make it clear what the crown’s case was: “He drank too much, behaved appallingly and assaulted a woman who was trying to help him.”

CCTV footage played in the court showed Bush arriving at the bar sometime around 9:00 that night. After getting out of the passenger side of a vehicle, he staggers into the bar. A short time later, Bush, who is unsteady on his feet, is seen to fall down on a pathway between the bar and the kitchen. Although caught on camera, his fall is obscured by a row of closed-up beach umbrellas. But at some point Kwong comes along and tries to assist Bush.

She later told police that, in his drunken state, he then began assaulting her, pulling her hair and punching out at her as she tried to help him up. During this melee Kwong called and messaged Richard Parchment, the original project director at the bar. The crown said that her goal had been for someone to come and take Bush discreetly and quietly out of the bar.

In the video, Bush is able to regain his footing and he heads towards the kitchen, but at that point he is seen picking up two bus trays (sizeable plastic buckets used to collect crockery), which he flings at Kwong and she deflects with her arms. The final act of violence by Bush occurred in the kitchen, where the video shows him slamming the woman against the surfaces and trying to grab the phone she is using to summon help.

In the violent scuffle, Bush has his arm around Kwong’s neck and throws her from surface to surface. The assault comes to an end when other staff members pull Bush away and he is eventually escorted from the premises.

The crown said that throughout the assault Kwong was also subject to a string of expletives and insults from Bush. She sustained a number of minor injuries to her arm, leg, neck and head.

Kwong had eventually opted to give a statement to police about the assault, having initially asked the officers summoned to the bar to merely warn Bush about the drunken behaviour.

She had told them that this was not an isolated incident, and while it was the first time he had become violent, it was not the first time he was drunk and disorderly. The court heard that Bush’s son is a part-owner in the bar, though during this incident Bush had described it as his place, the crown said.

In Bush’s defence Alberga accepted that his client was “unfortunately extremely intoxicated”, but since then he had given up alcohol completely and had undergone focused and intensive counselling to address the alcohol abuse stemming from the death of his daughter and the grief he had suffered.

Alberga spoke of Bush’s very humble beginnings and outlined his client’s 36 years of public service, listing his achievements and accomplishments as a servant of the people of West Bay and the Cayman Islands. He noted the work Bush had done in his career to advance the status of women in Cayman with issues relating to equal pay, maternity leave, laws to protect them from domestic violence and putting women in positions of power.

He urged the court not to record a conviction because of Bush’s work, especially his work with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. This requires him to travel and a conviction would make visas very difficult, he argued. He also has to travel to the US with his wife, who is in ill health, and a conviction could also jeopardize that. A conviction would serve as undue punishment given his position, Alberga argued.

Falling short of spelling out the details, Alberga referred to another legislator, who “shall remain nameless”, who was charged and pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman where a conviction was not recorded. He was referring to the case of Austin Harris, who, despite pleading guilty to a violent drunken assault on his girlfriend in 2015, escaped any sanction or conviction ahead of his own political ambitions.

Moran reminded the court that Bush had been aware of the crown’s case since April but the first indication that he was willing to plead and not go to trial had come just a few weeks ago. As a result, he argued, Bush should not receive the full credit afforded to those who admit their crimes at the earliest opportunity.

The senior prosecutor said the assault was not premeditated but it was prolonged. It involved the use of the bus trays as weapons and the hostility was aggravated because it was also based on an assumption about Kwong’s sexual orientation. The crown was not claiming that Bush had gone to the bar intending to hurt anyone, Moran said, but there were “significant factors indicating high culpability”.

Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn, who presided over the case, said that she would consider all of the case material submitted by both the crown and the defence and give a sentence ruling, if possible, the week before Christmas.

Although he has pleaded guilty to the charges, Bush is not yet convicted. However, the case is no longer sub judice.

As he waits to learn his fate for the assault, Bush will be presiding over historic celebrations on Friday, when the Legislative Assembly is formally unveiled as the Cayman Islands Parliament.

Bush took leave of absence from the speaker’s chair in the wake of the assault against Kwong, but he returned to one of the country’s highest offices in August, claiming that he had only stepped down for a while to get counselling.

On his return, Bush claimed that he was innocent until proven guilty and that if he was, the members of the House had the power to remove him if they wanted, but said he did not think they would want to.


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Comments (191)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Why are Caymanians standing by and letting this happen with its foregone conclusion that he will be let off? Whay aren’t you out protesting in the streets? How are you allowing this disgusting excuse of a human being to hold one of the highest posts in the land?
    As expats, we know that if we go out protesting against him, we will suddenly find ourselves without work permits and thrown off the island. Caymanians, what do you have to lose other than this POS joke representative for your country?

  2. Anonymous says:

    My god we need new politcians…Winston come back and bring friends!

  3. C Anon says:

    Yes KT we all know who this man is and what he represents and his continual abhorrent behavior in office but he is not the only one that behaves in this manner ,but he is the only one that has been prosecuted for his criminal behavior in public .What about the others who’s public indecency and perverted mannerism and violence towards women have been conveniently swept underneath the house where men of so called good standards and integrity congregate in secret to meet in fellowship to discuss fate of our society. Who by the way never ever make it to even the police station in some instances. What about them ???

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is mind boggling. He should have been kicked out of Parliament last week and readying himself to spend time behind bars. Livia Kwong should get protection and file civil suit claim against his assets.

    “ Violence against women is a public health issue. …social tolerance of violence and victim blaming and shaming is unacceptable. Government has a responsibility to keep people safe and the anti-violence legal framework in our nation is strong and progressive.“ said Honorable Tara Rivers.

    SHAME on everyone in Parliament who remains silent. You are enabling the perpetrators like Bush to continue violence against women.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A lesson from Socrates which can be found on the ‘school of life’ webiste

    If you were heading out on a journey by sea, asks Socrates, who would you ideally want deciding who was in charge of the vessel? Just anyone or people educated in the rules and demands of seafaring? The latter of course, says Adeimantus, so why then, responds Socrates, do we keep thinking that any old person should be fit to judge who should be a ruler of a country? Socrates’s point is that voting in an election is a skill, not a random intuition. And like any skill, it needs to be taught systematically to people. Letting the citizenry vote without an education is as irresponsible as putting them in charge of a trireme sailing to Samos in a storm.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is why voting should be IQ based. Turn 18, you write your test for voting. Strictly IQ based. You pass 110. You get your voters card. Fail, gotta wait 4 years and try again. And until you pass, you have to wait every 4 years to write again.

      That way, you cannot pander to the stupids. Because there are more stupids in a society than intelligent people. And politicians depend on it.

      • Anonymous says:

        A knowledge test might be appropriate, especially for candidates. But an IQ test won’t work. IQ tests are supposed to measure innate intelligence but are terribly biased by culture and favor specific kinds of formal education over others.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Amazing how Rivers, Connolly and Juliana just sits by…just don’t want to be seen sitting on the other side of the Parliament. Replace Tara with Paul and replace Bernie with…anybody.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well Juliana is tainted old school dinosaur and no surprise but the other two…how can they possibly think their silence is appropriate?

  7. Anonymous says:

    #releasethevideo

    • Weed head says:

      The people of this country who have nit gone to the streets and deplored the behavior of this di called Leader speaker, are just as complicit of his actions.

      The ticks that we elect as Leadersought to be tarred and feathered with a cat o nine in front of the court house for their inaction and yes acceptance of a woman beater in the Speakers role . Could it be that they with one exception may be guilty of the same conduct.

  8. Kerry Tibbetts says:

    Bush is a known homophobic.

    He once said years ago in my presence that “queers should all be killed”, at The Lord Nelson Pub in Trafalgar Square in 1986.

    I was right there as he was throwing his drinks around.

    Signed: Kerry Tibbetts

  9. Anonymous says:

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum.

    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately in Mac’s case justice will not be done through the heavens may fall.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Not necessarily equating the two but the recent judgment of community service tells where this one is headed.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I want to reach through the screen and get a handful of that wig.

  12. Anonymous says:

    McKeeva Bush has protected Michael Ryan for years. Is it a coincidence that Ryan has moved back to Costa Rica?

  13. Pffffffft says:

    Dream on people. Probation probably. Maybe a suspended sentence. The nightmare will live on.

    • Anonymous says:

      No conviction recorded wouldn’t even involve that. You can see Alberga isn’t even contemplating imprisonment – he is going for the next best result to an acquittal, even though his client has led guilty. And even if convicted, the sentence s for an offence that wouldn’t prohibit him running in May. We are stuck with Mac – he’ll retire from Cayman politics the day they nail his coffin shut (unless of course they change the electoral system to get rid of one man one vote or broaden the franchise).

    • Anonymous says:

      Did Kenneth and Saunders give him a character reference too?

      • Anonymous says:

        They will do anything to keep the best job and benefits they could dream of.

      • Anonymous says:

        They’re giving him one right now by sitting back and doing sweet diddly squat!!!!!

        Just so we are clear, so are all of the rest of you who are voting Caymanians.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Are they going to produce character references for him before the sentencing?

  15. Anonymous says:

    No fridge can get him out this one!!

    • Anonymous says:

      He is already out of it. He was free and clear the day they decided t charge him with common assault rather than ABH.
      Short of imprisonment, which would be highly unlikely for common assault and appealed, even if a conviction is recorded he’ll be eligible to run in May, and the idea that you will find enough decent, honest MPs to vote him out as Speaker or ban him from the house is laughable – the silence so far speaks volumes. Whether Patrick Moran’s tenure will survive is quite another matter. The precedents in relation to Auditor Generals do not look very promising.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m not sure. He could hide in one like Boris Johnson.

    • Anonymous says:

      8:50, Don’t bet on it. A slap on wrist coming. One of Cayman’s entitled.

    • Anonymous says:

      8:50, He does not need a fridge. You are in for a surprise. Teflon McKeeva always comes through. Cayman entitlement has its advantages.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This man elected to be representative of the people.

    Caymanians are much better than this.

    • Anonymous says:

      They really aren’t. They reap what they have sown. Look at the rest of the “Parliament”. This is what happens with limited franchises and rotten boroughs.

  17. Anonymous says:

    The Cayman Islands Government is a SHIT SHOW. All the member are the TURDS

    • Anonymous says:

      Sadly all members of our Parliament, including the female members are enablers of McKeeva. A very sad reflection of our society.

      • Drain the Cayman Swamp says:

        McKeeva controls Alden and all his yes men and women. They are all disgraceful undeserving of any respect and need to be voted out of office in 2021. The t8me has come to drain the Cayman Swamp

  18. Anonymous says:

    The judicial system and the CIG now stand at the edge of a precipice. The public now know the facts of this case and know exactly what McKeeva did to Ms Kwong. Should the judiciary fail to impose the appropriate sentence and should the CIG not collectively stand and banish McKeeva from forever holding another position in government, then their integrity is gone. The rule of law will mean nothing and this island truly will be a banana republic. Caymanians and status holders with the right to vote MUST remember that in May. A(nother) shameful episode in the reign of McKeeva Bush.

    • I couldn’t agree more.

      The level of disfranchisement of the population regarding the CIG is running at all time high , endangering the status of our little island as a financial center.

      The lack of observance of the rule of law is a very slippery slope and our present elected officials seem to pay no heed to the rising anger that is reaching a boiling point.

      We cannot afford to keep a segregated application of the law depending on bloodline , origins etc!

      Whereas Cayman is becoming a banana republic , we only have to look at the poor track record of the application of the laws on the books to conclude we are very well on the way to become one!

      It will take a major modification of the political system in place to avoid such a outcome . It can happen without violence but only if we collectively decide to chase the ghosts of the past that keep the island divided and fragmented.

      Our present politicians carter to that division to keep in power and get away with behaviors that are nothing short of criminal. The moment that division disappears they lose their grip forever.

      Is Cayman ready for such a sea change ? I sincerely hope so that this little island has a future to offer to everyone that elected to settle and live here.

      True Leaders lead by example and keep humble facing their own failings , that alone demonstrates how our present leadership fail its own people.

      McKeeva Bush is but a symptom of what ails our island. IMHO e shall be purged out of position and public service but so shall be all be every official that failed time and again to oppose his depredations.

      “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

      “In the end we will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends” Martin Luther King.

      The later shows that how much our present elected representatives are failing each and every person that have voted them into power.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree 99% with your comment. The part I take issue with is this statement: “Caymanians and status holders with the right to vote…” status holders are Caymanians, by law. You could have just said: “Caymanians with the right to vote.” This statement says exactly the same thing but with out the prejudice implied that there is a difference.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Bullies, racists of all women men black white yellow gay not gay are gone… Your time is done.

    Today is today not 100 years past.. Get with it or as a paper Caymanian or supposed to be known as a Caymanian will put my name forward. Sure as hell will do better and respect Cayman better than the home born crap parade and sekf gratification today. Because I worked and paid for it!

  20. Rick says:

    Wow! If this was an act done by a citizen, say from Watler’s Road, the question would be how much time he would get in prison. Not, should a conviction be recorded against him.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry to disappoint.
      The Bimbo who came here for some ‘local experience’ and broke quarantine got 40 hours community service.!!!
      Mac will get a slap and fine .

  21. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about. The other media house (you know, the most ‘trusted’) headline is about covid (because we can’t get enough of it) and this news about a career politician holdIng high office pleading guilty of drunken assault is just a little side bar. CNS must have this all wrong.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Horrific.

    #sheissupported

    • Anonymous says:

      And how practical is that support? Does MS Kwong still have a job? Is she even still on island?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, she is on island and in case you don’t realize, there are many, many Livia Kwongs on island who, too, need our support.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Bush is not above the law. He is no God, no angel nor honour man. He should be given the toughest sentence.

    I have no respect for him. He is certainly making the world laugh at us.

  24. OnlyInCayman says:

    If anyone would pay close attention to the quality of our politics on island , I would guess the only apt comparison would be relative to a 3 ring circus where axe wielding clowns as the main act !

    “Ladies and Gentleman , tonight we have a great and sinister show for our audience, I give you : The barmaid strangler! The donkey rider! The corrupt regulator! The wife beater! The greedy minister!” And the list goes on while the audience rushes for the exits only to find them locked!

    • Anonymous says:

      Donald J. Trump became the 45th elected president of the United States of America and y’all still on this “only in cayman” crap? Get a life man…

      • Anonymous says:

        Where is the only in Cayman reference? The only person making a comparison appears to be you, and only so you can excuse unacceptable behaviour here. Perhaps you ned to develop some moral values or care about the standards demonstrated by OUR politicians rather than tell others to get a life.

        • Anonymous says:

          And where does it state that all Caymanians are in support of this man and his behavior because a few votes got elected in his constituency? And the poster’s name clearly states “Only in Cayman” if you missed that… All of you hypocrites are trigger happy to highlight the bad apples amongst us, trying to paint all Caymanians negatively, but forget where you came from and the reasons you’re not there anymore and came to reside here.

    • Concerned diver says:

      The fact that he hasn’t been fired as a politician is beyond belief. An utter disgrace. 🤬🤬🤬🤬

  25. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps Civil injury claim for battery next?

  26. Anonymous says:

    No Hubert we do not need , nor do we want direct rule. If you so desperately require Direct rule there is a simple solution…repatriation.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Just watching live feed from parliament and was surprised Bush didn’t strike out at the woman with the white gloves and ruffled shirt when she got close enough pouring his water…but then camera zoomed out and saw it was actually a guy in a ruffled shirt…hitting dudes is not Bush’s style

  28. Anonymous says:

    This afternoons opening of Parliament – an absolute embarrassment to the Country. Stood centre of attention grinning, what does that say about respect. Disgraceful. Thankfully no members of the public present to give a damn. Should have been a “#sheissupported” demo.

  29. da-wa-u-get says:

    As long as we have individuals like Mac, that have a history of crooked and criminal behavior in the “House” you can call it LA,Parliament or whatever but, “Honorable” it is not. And all others sitting in the same house are not “Honorable” either as long as they tolerate members with Mac’s behavioral history amongst them!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t matter really, this mans reputation supersedes him and his ongoing antics does not help his case at all

  31. Anonymous says:

    He is a monster. It’s an absolute joke that there is any debate about him continuing to hold public office. He is making a mockery of the whole country.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Let me see if have this right. It is not OK to drink and drive, but it is OK to drink and beat up a woman. Do I have that right?

  33. Anonymous says:

    The account of the attack is brutal. If he’d lashed out once in a state of confusion then maybe but this horrible, odious man launched a sustained and viscous attack on a woman.

    What an absolute disgrace to Cayman this man is.

    • Anonymous says:

      Livia Wong, hope you know Cayman is behind you in this atrocious, violent attack on you. We apologize for your needless suffering and hooe you make a full recovery mentally as well as physically. Honorary Livia Wong and all women that have suffered abuse from the hands and mouths of bullies and cowards!

      • Anonymous says:

        Livia is lovely and for him to even suggest she attacked him is utterly shameless and outrageous.

  34. Anonymous says:

    the fact that this man won’t step down just shows you how much he loves himself and the perks of the job over the country he claims to love so much.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Mac, be honourable for the first time. Step down as Speaker. Govt let Barbara finish this term as Speaker.
    WBW voters have to deal with their representative next May. They must be able to do better.

    • Anonymous says:

      We are long past the window for honorability, this is more about the final method in which he exits politics. As we’ve long expected, it may have to be in handcuffs.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Lock up his behind and disqualify him from EVER running for public office again! He should have been strung up for being derelict on his director duties at First Cayman Bank; or when he was caught groping that waitress at that Florida casino. Should have thought about the visa issue then. And wait! As Speaker, he is supposed to be heading the new council when the Parliament goes independent? That is a scary thought.

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