Killers sent to UK will get a special court hearing

| 28/04/2022 | 36 Comments
Cayman News Service
Justin Ramoon (far left) and Osbourne Douglas escorted by prison officers as the court visits the scene of Jason Powery’s murder in 2016

(CNS): Two local brothers who were convicted in 2016 of murdering Jason Powery in July 2015 at a George Town bar and then forcibly sent to the UK in 2017 to serve their life sentences on grounds of national security have brought a legal challenge asking to be returned home to the Cayman Islands. Following a hearing on the matter on Wednesday, the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has sent the case back to the Grand Court to reconsider it in a special hearing.

Osbourne Douglas (36) and Justin Ramoon (30) are challenging their removal to the UK on human rights grounds but the governor has argued it was proportionate because even in jail the men pose a continuing threat to the community.

But while the governor, the prison director and a handful of other people have seen the evidence said to support their removal, Douglas and Ramoon have not.

Their enforced separation from the regular access they had to their families while incarcerated here and their inability to challenge it after they were removed without notice raised a number of human rights issues.

There are limitations on human rights when it comes to national security issues, but the difficulty the brothers, their legal team and several courts have had with this case is that much of the material used to justify sending the men to serve their time in British prisons is secret and subject to a public interest immunity order. As a result, settling the questions of whether or not the decision made by the governor was lawful, fair and proportionate has proved problematic.

The authorities here have said that Douglas is the leader of the George Town Central criminal gang known as the Central Military Killers, or CMK, and his younger brother is a senior and influential member of the same gang. The pair are accused of continuing their criminal life while behind bars, overseeing the importation of weapons into the islands, plotting to escape using guns, smuggling drugs and mobile phones into the jail, intimidating prison staff and other prisoners, and assaulting witnesses, both directly inside the jail and via proxy outside.

In his description of the case at the time of trial, the late Justice Charles Quin described the crime as “a very public execution of the most evil nature… chillingly clinical in its planning and execution”.

The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal also said in 2018 that the blatant way the murder was carried out supported the risk the brothers pose to the community. Denying their appeal against conviction, the judges wrote: “The appellants wore no disguise. They openly had with them a gun. They were not unknown to some (if not most) of those present in the area of the Globe Bar. They plainly did not believe that anyone would dare to give evidence against them.”

According to the evidence that the crown has allowed the courts and the defendants to see, the brothers continue to cause fear and undue influence from their cells. Much of this evidence is sensitive because it comes from individuals who have reason to fear that the brothers will exact revenge.

The governor and the crown have relied upon some 185 undisclosed documents that are said to support the claim that the men are a danger to society. They also claim that even if there was a high-security facility here, in such a small jurisdiction it would not prevent their continued threat to good order, either in or out of the prison.

A letter from the governor to the UK Foreign Secretary in June 2017 asking for the British authorities to find a place for the brothers in England said they “continued to control serious, organised criminal activity in the Cayman Islands”.

Both of the men deny these allegations.

Almost all of the evidence the authorities say they have to support the accusation that the brothers have continued their life of crime from behind bars and the more general threat they pose to the community has not been made available to them or their lawyers. As a result, their effort to argue the basic question as to whether their enforced removal to serve their time four and a half thousand miles away is proportionate and justifies overriding their basic rights has proved almost impossible.

The crucial matter in Wednesday’s Court of Appeal hearing was the issue of what is known as a closed material procedure. This is where the court and prosecutors are allowed to see all the closed or secret evidence and a special independent advocate is also granted access to the sensitive material on behalf of the defendants. But a previous court had ruled that this procedure is not available in the Cayman Islands.

Lawyers representing the brothers have argued that even it was, it would not help much since the independent advocate cannot share the content with them or their clients. While the advocate can speak with the defendants before this procedure takes place, he cannot take instructions based on any of the confidential evidence.

The brothers’ legal team maintains that it is impossible under such circumstances to have a fair hearing. They contend that their clients should see much more of the documents the crown reportedly holds against them. As a result, they continue to claim that the transfer of their clients breaches the Bill of Rights and are likely to challenge the findings of the Cayman courts at the UK Privy Council.

Justice Margaret Ramsay-Hale outlined the key issues when she delivered the ruling Wednesday on behalf of the Court of Appeal. The panel had found that the judge had been wrong to decide that a closed material procedure was not available here, she explained, and so they were sending the case back to the Grand Court to allow this procedure to take place and then to re-hear the original judicial review.

She said that the higher court had also addressed a number of other important areas that will direct the next hearing (for which no date has yet been set).

Justice Ramsay-Hale confirmed that the appeal court found the law used to remove the brothers, which was passed in 1884, remained lawful but the governor had to consider its compatibility with the Bill of Rights. The panel also believed the governor was obligated to, and did, consider the human rights of the families involved, including Douglas and Ramoon’s young children, when making the decision to send the men to the UK.

However, the most important part of the ruling is that it allows the courts in Cayman to hold the controversial closed material procedure, which is most often used in the UK in terrorist cases.

It paves the way to formalize closed-door court hearings when the governor or law enforcement authorities deem that exposing evidence to accused individuals could pose a security risk. This will fuel concern that the justice system could incarcerate people without full disclosure to defendants, juries or even judges.

In this case, the brothers’ liberty is not in question. Both have been convicted, denied an appeal against the convictions and are serving life tariffs of more than 30 years for the murder of Powery. The question is whether or not they still have the right to retain their family connections by serving their jail time at HMP Northward or if the evidence of their continued criminality is such that their removal was necessary and proportionate, overriding their and their families’ rights.

Douglas and Ramoon are two of three prisoners from Cayman currently serving sentences in the UK, which is paid for by the Cayman Islands. Elmer Wright (28) was sent to the UK in 2020 after his conviction for a terrifying home invasion in Prospect in 2017. He was moved on the grounds that he had been intimidating witnesses in the prison and also posed a security threat.


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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (36)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The worst thing that could happen to their kids is to have contact with these losers. They should rot right where they are…….unless we can get them moved even further from Cayman!

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Killers got more rights than witnesses yet we got to change our whole lives for what their mistake. We got to leave our lives our loved ones for their mistake!!! This is not fair and the law needs to be amended lawmakers need make a law for witnesses to have equal rights as criminals!

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  3. Anonymous says:

    All those legal experts who do often post on CNS and sign their names are now posting anonymously! That should tell you something about fear and intimidation

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    • Orrie Merren says:

      For clarity 6:55 pm, lawyers are very busy and, without doubt, have better things to do than post a comment to every news article.

      We put in a lot of work and, if you think that there is some element of fear, you’re sorely mistaken. We happen to be very busy.

      Ironically, my post relates to your pre-misconceived notion, which it’s unfortunate that it matters that much to you.

      God bless, 🙏🏻🇰🇾
      Orrie Merren
      Attorney-at-Law

  4. Anonymous says:

    Sone kids are better off without a father’s influence.

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  5. Say it like it is says:

    I would not be surprised if they are awarded substantial damages for infringement of their rights, the amount of which like all awards against our Govt will be kept secret.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is such a waste of time. Many of us do not agree that a convicted criminal must be kept in a jail near his family. What is the point?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Homicide occurs in different forms – domestic, criminal, “sado-psycho-sicko” among others and, if charged, is usually prosecuted under forms of manslaughter or various degrees of murder.

    Some of these gun killers in Cayman are wannabe gangsters, boys with deadly “toys”, but some are sociopathic killers and should not live freely in any society, especially a small one.

    I recall when gun crimes significantly increased in Jamaica in the early 1970s (originally fueled by their politicians). It destroyed Jamaica’s economy for decades and has never subsided. Imagine that scenario in our 70 squares?

    We lost the opportunity for sending a real message when the UK directed us to drop the death penalty and the never-used, very-expensive gallows at HMP Northward became another public expense write-off. Thanks UK! So, if our society is suffering from these heartless killers because they don’t fear getting their necks stretched, then hard time in the UK should be appropriate.

    Community and RCIPS need to step-up and secure arrests, prosecutions and convictions!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Well said. I think the death penalty is (technically) still available in Cayman Islands for treason and espionage, although it is unlikely to be used.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Perfect timing. Killings still going on because of these 2 and we entertainig to bring them back????

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Meanwhile…a few more killers are roaming around. Hope we can soon hear/read about their own flights out to Belmarsh or at least Northward for life!

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Why everyone can’t understand if one kills another then they have lost all their rights. Concerning their children they should have thought about of them before they committed murder. What about the dead man and his children ? Cayman got to stop easing up murderers.

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    • Anonymous says:

      This is the reason that judges not commenters on CNS decide legal matters.

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    • Anonymous says:

      They’re only using their children as an excuse . They would otherwise not give a fig about them, and be absent baby daddy like the rest of their kind.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Big problem in Cayman, Criminals has to much rights from Government and also lots of the people.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Keep them there or send them to Jamaica 🇯🇲 like they use to !

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why everyone can’t understand if one kills another then they have lost all their rights. Concerning their children they should have thought about of them before they committed murder. What about the dead man and his children ? Cayman got to stop easing up murderers.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Australia.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Send they ass to Mariupol.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I doubt VERY much whether these two plastic gangsters are intimidating the nutters or staff in Belmarsh.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    The worst thing in the world is to live with a guilty conscience.
    There is no escape. When you wake up, your crime is there, when you sleep, it is on your mind.
    Only making peace with the Infinite can ease the pain and that usually entails making peace with your victims.
    There is no free ride. We are fully accountable for every single one of our actions.
    No wonder people choose to become atheists.
    If only it were that simple, I would have become an atheist years ago.
    Alas, I cannot unsee what I have seen, nor unknow what I have come to know.
    I am fearfully preparing myself to meet my Maker.

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    • Anonymous says:

      To have a guilty conscience, you are required to have a conscience in the first place. But that doesn’t apply to these scum.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Do not bring them back here. Leave them where they are or move them to isolation in Siberia.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Keep them over there, we have enough issues now with these worthless beings. Time to clean up Cayman and starting with the RCIP!!

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  16. Anonymous says:

    this case aside, it’s scary to think a group of people can convict and remove you from a country without ever sharing that info.

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    • Anonymous says:

      #epxatsinthe80sand90s

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    • Anonymous says:

      They are British subjects.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. So happy that the courts have accepted that a closed material hearing can be done using the UK process even without the local legislation. This way at least a judge does get to see the case, i.e., there is a check on behalf of society to balance the original decision.

      As you say this is a question of the general principle. Not the merits of this particular case, which is now for the judge to decide.

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Their families should have to fund this process out of pocket and not the public’s purse. No one besides their close family members wants to waste CIG funds again in this way. Terribly unfair to Jason’s family that these vile humans are allowed to make our headlines yet again. They did the crime – now do the time and while you are at it – shut ya mouths now too! Bringing them back to Cayman is only going to lead to more of what is happening as of this morning. Local prison + family contact here = execution hits! Just wait for it.

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    • Anonymous says:

      If I were a family member, while I might be sad not to be able to visit them, I would rather not have all the negative press about them being back in Cayman as I would want to move on as well.
      I hope they stay put in the UK!

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      • Anonymous says:

        And some family members want them back to cover for scumbags like these as those here now…

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      • Anonymous says:

        Their families get several trips to the UK paid by CIG to go visit them every year.

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        • Anonymous says:

          Good, then let them keep visiting them THERE and keep them off of Cayman soil for as long as humanly possible.

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