Key murder witness lost trust over cop’s ‘threat’

| 14/06/2022
RCIPS detention centre in George Town

(CNS): A key witness in the crown’s case against Roger Deward Bush (47) for the murder of his son, Shaquille Bush (24), at their family yard in 2019 told the court how shortly after the killing, she had been ready to tell the police everything she knew until an RCIPS auxiliary officer visited her in a cell as she waited to talk with detectives.

Nikkieta Ebanks (33) said that just before her interview, the officer had delivered what was clearly a threatening message from Bush to stop her from saying anything. This led to her keeping quiet for more than a year.

Due to a court order CNS is unable to name the officer but the crown has said there is corroborating evidence to support Ebanks’ claims. The officer in question was arrested in September last year on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

Ebanks, who began giving evidence in the trial of Bush on Monday, told the court that she had been in a long relationship with the defendant since she was sixteen and they have an eight-year-old daughter.

Although Ebanks was not at the scene of the fatal shooting on 12 November 2019, she had been with Bush for most of the day and again later that night, after the murder, when Bush had confessed to her that he was the killer. Her evidence forms the narrative of the crown’s case against Bush as she helped police piece together evidence that prosecutors say lead to the inevitable conclusion that Bush gunned down his son at their West Bay home.

The crown contends he was motivated by a misplaced obsession that Shaquille, not Roger Bush, was the child’s biological father.

After outlining the events leading up to and after the murder as she gave evidence on Monday, Ebanks returned to the witness stand on Tuesday and told the court about the auxiliary constable who had prevented her from giving her evidence to police at the time of the killing. Police already suspected Bush was the shooter and he had been arrested the day after his son was killed.

But he gave a no-comment interview, and after several days he was released on bail. While Ebanks was first interviewed as a general witness about five days after the murder, she was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory and helping Bush.

As she waited for her lawyer to arrive ahead of the interview, two officers entered the cell at the Fairbanks Detention Centre. One of them stepped away to deal with another prisoner, and the remaining officer, whom Ebanks described as a bald Jamaican with a pot belly, whispered in her ear, “The boss man say you must say nothing and hold it down.”

She told the court that she was shocked and was not sure she had heard him properly. She asked him to repeat what he said. Again the officer said, “The bossman say you must say no comment to everything.”

At that point, she knew who the threat was from and that it was a clear threat by a professional police officer from Bush, Ebanks said. She told the court it worked because she was intimidated. “After that I did not trust anyone in the police,” she said, adding that she had “intended to say everything from A-Z, but when he threatened me, I had a change of heart”.

As she gave evidence, Ebanks outlined many more threats that Bush made in the wake of the killing, telling her that she “must keep my mouth shut or he would take me out and my mama”.

Soon after she was released from her police bail, he had taken her to town, where he stopped at a liquor store on the waterfront, she said. He got out of the car and went to speak with a man in a BMW, whom she could clearly see. She said that it was the same police officer who came to her in the cell. Ebanks said that after the men spoke for around five or ten minutes the police officer drove away and Bush told her that the man wanted him to kill her because he felt she was going to talk.

Ebanks said she asked Bush, “Talk about what?” He responded, “Let’s keep it like that.” She told the court that she did not know the officer’s name at the time but learned it later when he tried to add her on a social media platform.

As she spoke about the time after the murder, Ebanks said she had remained with Bush because she had “no choices”. She described how, immediately after Shaquille’s funeral in December, she bought plane tickets for her daughter and herself and left for England. She remained there for more than three weeks, but given the time of year, she ran out of money because she could not lease an apartment and was staying in a hotel.

When she came back she tried to stay away from Bush, even keeping her daughter out of school so he would not find out she was back in Cayman. But as soon as her daughter went back to school Bush found out and came straight to her mother’s home, where she had been staying.

He continued to make threats and, despite his confessions, even accused her of killing his son with a man named “Screechy”, a convicted local gangster named Carlos Russel who has since died but once did electrical work for them. She said it made no sense and she did not understand why he said it.

She said that Bush was obsessive and possessive about her and she was in “so much fear of Roger”. As well as the constant threats about killing her and her family members, she spoke of the violence she suffered at his hand and recalled a number of times when he raped her. She accused Bush of traumatizing their daughter and said that he often had a gun when she was with him.

Ebanks also told the court that after he had forced her to come back to stay with him at Daisy Lane in West Bay, she had witnessed him sitting with several other men around a table full of guns and from then on the threats got worse before she eventually went to the police.

The case continues.

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