Appeal stalled as Lobo seeks new lawyer

| 03/09/2021 | 15 Comments
Cayman News Service
David Lobo

(CNS): David Lobo (35), a former customs officer who was convicted in January 2019 and is now serving a 16-year sentence for drug smuggling, is seeking a new lawyer to argue his appeal. Lobo’s challenge to his conviction was due to be heard by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal on Friday, but the case was adjourned until later in this session when Lobo revealed he wanted to change his representation and also seek leading counsel. Lobo is trying to get his conviction quashed largely on the submission of an affidavit by a key crown witness and co-conspirator in the case recanting his evidence against Lobo.

Lesme Ruiz has now claimed that he was induced into giving false evidence by the former director of public prosecutions in exchange for a much lesser sentence for his own conviction. Ruiz, who is Venezuelan, was one of several men whom the crown alleged were involved in a conspiracy case in which they used South American gold artifacts as a front to smuggle more than two kilos of cocaine into the Cayman Islands in 2017.

Ruiz was sentenced to five years for his part in the conspiracy. Having been on remand since he was arrested in 2017, he was released from jail in 2020 after serving two thirds of his sentence, as required by law.

He was eventually deported after the pandemic stalled his removal from the island, but when he left he submitted a sworn affidavit to the court stating that he had lied during the trial at the direction of Patrick Moran, the DPP at the time. Ruiz claimed that Moran had threatened to jail him for 18 years unless he testified against Lobo.

However, he was told by Moran that if he did testify he would be given a much lower sentence, Ruiz now claims. He stated in the affidavit that this choice was made to him by Moran twice, and looking out for his own interests, he said he agreed to give false evidence against Lobo. Ruiz claims in the affidavit, which has been seen by CNS and was sworn to in front of the prison chaplain Cathy Gomez JP, that during the trial he gave the false testimony.

In the affidavit Ruiz stated that Lobo had nothing to do with the smuggling of the drugs and a “grave injustice was done to an innocent man”. He said Lobo did not know about the cocaine conspiracy as the business dealings between the two men related to the gold statues and artifacts he was importing. Ruiz said he was ashamed of his actions but hoped the court could resolve the situation.

At his trial Lobo had claimed that Ruiz was lying and that he had only ever had dealings with him to import the gold statues and knew nothing about the drug smuggling.

Ruiz left the jurisdiction over one year ago and before the document was submitted to the court and to Lobo’s legal team. As a result, the appeal court heard that Ruiz would not be giving evidence, and also that Moran, who resigned from his position as DPP in the wake of an unrelated scandal, has submitted a statement refuting the claims.

Moran departed the senior post in May, shortly before the prosecution of Evita Dixon, a staff member of the Office of the Director of Public Prosections (ODPP) for breach of trust. During that trial, where she was found not guilty, lawyers and other employees of the ODPP made allegations of racism in the office. An internal audit reportedly cleared Moran of any wrongdoing.

CNS Note: This article has been corrected as a previous version wrongly suggested Lobo had not given evidence at his trial when in fact he did take the stand in his own defence.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (15)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Can charges be brought to this guy saying he lied under oath?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not today Lobo

  3. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the appeals court can increase his prison time.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If an innocent man is in jail, for this case, let’s hope the situation can be righted. However, the Court of Appeal has much on its hands, and citizens of this country can only hope that all the evidence presented will bring forth the truth and nothing but the truth.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Wow. This reads like a novel — unfortunately, it is factual.

  6. Anonymous says:

    If I was innocent, I’d sure as hell be giving evidence in my own trial.

    • Anon says:

      Hence the desire for a new lawyer-

      • Anonymous says:

        What??? New lawyer?? No, I’m referring to Lobos decision not to give evidence. That’s independent of his legal representation at any point!

        If I’m accused of something I haven’t done, I’d be speaking up!

        • Anonymous says:

          Thonk poster meant that Lobo had elected not to give evidence on his previous lawyers legal advice, which they infer was wrong.

  7. Anonymous says:

    So the prison chaplain/jp notarizes an affidavit for the guy saying he lied to the court under oath, but the affidavit does not turn up until after the guy has left the jurisdiction? Can we assume that extradition proceedings will shortly bring this guy back for a further trial on new charges? Can we also assume the jp will be questioned as to why he/she did not turn in the affidavit before the guy absconded from Cayman. Most places an affidavit admitting a serious crime would be something yoy’d want to send the police right away. Meanwhile, how is this affidavit anything but inadmissible hearsay in the current appeal? At least the sob is still in jail during the appeal. That is not always the case around here.

    • Anonymous says:

      Does the JP have to read contents of affidavit or is her job only to verify the identity of person signing it? Genuine question. Trust trying to understand the role of JP in something like this.

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