‘Tittle-tat’ fails to help convicted ex-immigration officer

| 08/11/2021 | 11 Comments
Immigration Building (file photo)

(CNS): An attempt by a former senior immigration officer to have his conviction for corruption quashed or at least get his four-year jail term cut has failed. When Marcus Alexander appeared before the Court of Appeal in September, he argued that guilty verdicts against him in a major bribery scandal involving 12 co-defendants should be overturned as the real protagonist was acquitted because a relative of hers served on the jury. But the court found that the allegation, which was made in an anonymous email, “amounted to little more than tittle-tat” and his sentence would stick because Alexander was “the main actor in this widespread conspiracy”.

Alexander was convicted in January 2019 but not sentenced until July the following year, as the case was split into three trials and took a long time to conclude. As a senior officer at the time, Alexander was depicted as the ringleader in the conspiracy case around the English Language Test that must be taken by work permit applicants.

The case was that a group of immigration officers conspired with members of the community by taking $600 bribes to allow a number of women, most of them Spanish speaking, who were brought here for bar work to pass this test, even though they could not speak English well, and so secure work permits under false pretenses.

Alexander’s claim that his conviction should be thrown out based on an anonymous email as well as a letter from the co-defendant accused of having a relative on the jury was rejected by the appeal court.

The anonymous email that was sent to the court suggested that Pheadra McDonald, one of the defendants in the case, was related to a juror, which was why she was not convicted on the more serious count she had been charged with. The writer claimed the “proof clearly shows that she was the person, who gave her boyfriend… ALL of the Immigration Officers telephone numbers”.

The appeal court justices said the email went on to request an investigation about “a conversation which ostensibly took place in Foster’s supermarket”, but they found that “the email, as it seems to us, amounts to little more than tittle-tat”.

Soon after the email, the court received a letter written by McDonald herself, suggesting that a lady who looked liked a distant relative of her great-grandmother was on the jury, but as she could not be sure she disregarded it. But after a conversation with her sister she learned that the woman “was known to us as children by a different name” and that she was a distant relative by marriage. She therefore felt she should bring it to the court’s attention.

Keith Myers, the defence attorney who appeared on behalf of Alexander, said this provided grounds for quashing the conviction on the basis that there was an irregularity. However, the appeal court rejected the argument and agreed with prosecutor Greg Walcolm that this fell far short of any possibility of actual or reasonable belief of bias.

“It seems to us that no reasonable person could conclude on the basis of the letter that there arose a risk of bias,” the appeal court found, and said that what is set out in the letter revealed at most a relationship which, if it existed, was far too remote to justify any further investigation.

The judges also found that none of the submissions made by Myers regarding Alexander’s sentence had substance. The first was that the technical calculations of the trial judge, Justice Phillip St John-Stevens, were wrong. The panel found that this was wholly without merit, and they also rejected Myers’ claim that there was a disparity in the sentences handed down to those involved in the case and his client had been given too much time by comparison.

However, the trial judge had explained the reason why Alexander was given the longest sentence of all those involved in the case.

“He was the main actor in this widespread conspiracy,” the judges said in the appeal ruling. “The judge explained how he arrived at that conclusion. It was a decision he was plainly entitled to reach. In our judgment, the submission of disparity is hopeless. In the circumstances, there is no basis to impugn the sentence of four years’ imprisonment.”

The court refused the appeal against both the conviction and sentence.

See the full appeal ruling via the Judicial Administration public register here.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    People the only person he has hurt in this situation is himself he didn’t rape or murder anyone there is no need for stupid comments I would say” good riddance to bad rubbish” if he were hurting or have hurt someone else. People make stupid mistakes that’s the thing will us caymanians quick to judge and stifle our own thats why foreigners come and say and do the things they do.

    • Anonymous says:

      Imagine people are more outraged over a person pulling a fast one on the government (who f@#K the people over daily) than they are over rapists, child molesters and murderers. Bigger criminals are walking in the streets and even in our own Parliament, yet unuh continue to elect them. I’ve seen rape cases that have gotten shorter sentences than this one. If this appeal happened in September, why is it just being talked about now? News about something other than pushing the vaccine and covid numbers is a rarity nowadays.

  3. Anonymous says:

    good riddance to bad rubbish

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow, they actually made it stick for once. Im quite surprised to be honest.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Taking a bribe is one thing but offering a bribe is just as bad. Surely the bribers are known and still out there, what did they get a slap on the wrist?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I always said that, if Immigration was conducting these English Language Tests properly, there’s no way that certain expat workers should be employed in certain jobs in Cayman, because there command of the Anglo-speaking abilities was too deficient.

    Now we know that, instead of incompetence, it was owing to corruption and conspiracy. Certainly, criminal conduct (corruption and conspiracy are worse than incompetence, but neither are acceptable.

    Wonder what’s going to happen to Mr. Charles Clifford, whose conduct in the Doctor’s Express case was found to be unlawful, where he colluded and conspired with the Chief Medical Officer (Dr. Lee) and others to unlawfully interfere with a licensed Health Clinic, which was licensed to lawfully carry on business with respect to medical cannabis products.

    It seems that the Attorney General and the previous Chairperson of the Health Practice Commission have some significant explaining to do as well. So far, we have heard nothing from them.

    It seems that the Director of Public Prosecutions office is still not sufficiently doing its job, at least, when it comes to charging high ranking public officials and civil servants, who are very well connected.

    The real truth is that, if you in the Masonic or Mechanics Lodge, there is extensive protection. But, if you are regular good law-abiding citizen, there is extensive persecution. Time to get serious.

    • Anonymous says:

      On point!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Corruption in the Cayman Islands? I’m shocked.

    • Anonymous says:

      The real truth is that, if you in the Masonic or Mechanics Lodge, there is extensive protection.

      Which one is best, or do they both offer 3-years or 3,000 miles full coverage?

    • Anonymous says:

      Would you believe it if I told you there are a few people in prison right now despite being lodge boys? I’ve seen it first hand where they are choosy with who they condemn and who they will help get off. In fact, members of their own lodge sent broadcast messages out against one of their own when the person was sentenced. No loyalty amongst those fools. I don’t even understand why anyone of sound frame of mind would want to join that circus.

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