Poor prison security deprives inmates of rights

| 21/11/2022 | 57 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): A lawyer representing Justin Ramoon told the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) on Friday that his Caymanian client, who was moved to the UK to serve a life sentence with a minimum term of 35 years for the murder of Jason Powery, hadn’t seen his son for five years because of the inadequacies at HMP Northward. Hugh Southey KC told the high court that the authorities in Cayman have known for years that the prison is not fit to hold category A inmates but have done nothing to address the issue and have instead shipped them off to Britain.

In the final case of the historic sitting here in the Cayman Islands of the JCPC, the last court of appeal for British Overseas Territories, Southey, instructed by local attorneys Samson Law, set out the grounds of appeal for his client based on questions about whether or not due consideration was given to his basic human rights when he was moved.

He also challenged the Grand Court’s power to hold a closed material procedure (CMP) to determine the claim that Ramoon had brought against his removal under the Bill of Rights after he was sent to the UK.

The problem with the CMP was that neither Ramoon nor his attorneys were allowed to see the material on which the governor had based his decision and signed the order to ship him to Britain. Ramoon was moved from HMP Northward in 2017 under a 19th Century law largely because the authorities claimed he and others were still engaged in serious crime from behind bars and the prison was not secure enough to hold him safely. He was not given any notice or any opportunity to make representations until after he had been transferred to a prison in England.

Justin Ramoon

Ramoon is one of three men serving life sentences in Britain because of concerns about national security. One is Osbourne Douglas, Ramoon’s brother and co-conspirator who is also serving a 34-year-life term for the murder of Powery outside a George Town bar in 2015 in a gang-related assassination. The brothers have also been split up, serving their sentences in prions that are understood to be several hundred miles apart. The third man is Elmer Wright, who is serving a minimum 21-year life term in connection with a violent home invasion.

All three men and any other future planned transfers will be impacted by the JCPC’s decision in this case, and the result has implications for local security and the basic family rights of the men. Despite being in jail for serious crimes, the prisoners still have a right to visits from family members.

The government has argued that there is compelling intelligence that Ramoon continued to orchestrate gang-related activities in prison, including conspiracy to murder, the smuggling of drugs, firearms and hitmen into Cayman, threats to staff at HMP Northward and assaults on other inmates. This information was based on a number of undisclosed sources, including prison informants.

But Southey told the JCPC hearing the case that Ramoon’s legal team had never seen the material and were unable to challenge it or argue that another solution to the management of the risk, if real, could be found instead of his transfer. He pointed out that the problem with the prison security lies at the feet of the authorities here, given how long they have known of HMP Northward’s limitations.

He said this point was illustrated by the attorney general’s own admission that once a new prison, or at least a high-security wing, is constructed, Ramoon could be returned to this jurisdiction where all of his family, with which he had close ties, still reside.

But much of his arguments focused on the legality of the closed-door hearing where the crown presented material to the judge hearing the case without the defence getting to see any of it. Although an independent advocate was allowed to sit in on the CMP, that person was unable to share any information with the defence team.

Southey laid out extensive technical arguments but the thrust was to question how the governor, as the decision maker, could fairly justify that decision if the material could not be properly aired and the details could never be shared, an essential part of the justice system. Everyone, including prisoners, has a right to a fair procedure, he said, and in this case his client did not get a fair hearing.

The crown’s lawyer has argued that the risk Ramoon poses to the community is very high and for national security reasons the governor is simply not allowed in law to disclose the details on which he made his decision. But he said the CMP was a fair alternative to the completely closed public immunity hearing, which was the only other option, since there was an independent pair of eyes in the room looking at the proceedings on Ramoon’s behalf, although unable to advocate for him.

The case was heard by President Lord Reed sitting alongside Lord Hodge, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Briggs and Lord Kitchin. It was adjourned for deliberation and the justices are expected to deliver their verdict at an unspecified time in the New Year.


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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (57)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What? Are we supposed to boo hoo over this murdering thug whining that he has been deprived of certain human rights? Did he allow his victim his human rights? What goes around, comes around. Let him rot in the UK prison.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps he should have thought of this before he murdered someone. Leave him where he is so he can feel what it is like for the family of his victims, that is true justice.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Poor policing of our roads is depriving us all of a safe commute.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    There could have been hope for Justin if there had been intervention for him before the age of 10 yrs old. Not sure which family they are wasting public funds trying to get him to see, most of the family needs serious help in many ways and they created the men that Justin and his brothers became by encouraging and aiding criminal behavior for many decades and from VERY young ages.

    With the rate crime is increasing in Cayman they should send every inmate convicted of ANY violent crime to the UK.

    Maybe Justin and his brother can send a statement to young Caymanian men about what real gangsters are like now that they have experienced the society of a real maximum security pen. The two always thought they were big bad man and are now crying to return to the easy-goings at Northward Prison.

    If they win this case, their egos may go through the roof and it will probably cause them to be worst than they were before.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Where are the posters crying out “deport them” ? A bit awkward when it’s revealed clearly that we have plenty gangstas of our own Caymanian kind, isn’t it?

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      • Anonymous says:

        We know that we have our own home grown criminals. Families like this one don’t let us forget!
        But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t deport the foreign born criminals in our midst – because we get a lot of those too!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Why would we deport our own? They’re our responsibility.

        Your people, your problem.

      • Anonymous says:

        @2:11:
        No need to cry out “Deport them!” in this case. They have been deported to the UK.

    • Moi says:

      Why burden the UK with these career criminals?!

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    • Sitting on the Privy says:

      If they win this case I’m sure their first words will be Praise the Lord”.

  5. Anonymous says:

    “hadn’t seen his son for five years because of the inadequacies at HMP Northward”

    Exactly what is it that his son needs to see?

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    • Anonymous says:

      The victim’s family have not seen their son either.
      IMHO inadequacies at HMP Northward in this case is that they do have a dungeon in which the murderer can spend his sentence shackled to the wall.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Who exactly decided that family visits were a “human right” and not a privilege. Nobody asked me! Such decisions should not be left to ivory tower judges.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Why should a hard criminal Killer have family rights ? What about the dead one rights ?. What about the dead one family ?, this modern justices are not justice at all. People should understand that if one willing kills another, then that also kills all rights of the Killer.

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  7. Al Catraz says:

    It seems the good people of Cayman have spotted a glaring omission from Matthew 25:36, since it doesn’t say anything about the victims. It is good to see Caymanians throwing the Bible aside and coming to their senses.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Troll.

    • Anonymous says:

      @9:52:
      Really silly comment. They are not in prison and being deprived of visitors. Where do you read that? I am sure they can have visitors during set hours for visits. British Airways has regularly scheduled flights to the UK, so Cayman visitors can drop by and say hi.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I would think the son would be better off without him.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    RIP. Omar

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    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly! Jason was not their first victim, and if back here with access to phone, internet etc. that most have in Northward – Jason won’t be their last one either!

      RIP OMAR SAMUELS! RIP JASON POWERY! RIP those they also were a part of executing but got away with.

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    • Anonymous says:

      :'( </3
      And the other people they killed. Individually and together.

  10. Truth says:

    So let me get this straight. He MURDERED someone. He took away the victims right to life, the victim’s familie’s right to see there son, brother, cousin ect….

    Now this “MURDERER” is crying because he can’t see his son? He saying his rights are being violated????

    Really guy. You Murdered some one. You took the ultimate right to LIFE AWAY. Now you want to whing because your SON can’t see your crooked ass. Dude if it was up to me your ass would have been hanging after conviction. The fact your SON can not see you might just SAVE his life.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Justin “Pot” Ramoon has murdered more than one person. It is common knowledge, but the police cannot prove it because people either loyal to him and his family, or scared of him and his brothers and cousins would not talk.
      And at least one of his other victims was also a father. Pot took away that person’s opportunity to see his children grow up, so it is only fair that he doesn’t get to see his son grow up either. Given the psychopath that Pot is, and the severely dysfunctional family he came out of, his son is FAR better off without him.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Crime is on the rise and will continue to rise considering the current immigration policies. Why spend millions on blocking off a main artery in George Town and not expand the prison? Early release due to space issues is only creating more crimes for the criminals – they are not being rehabilitated therefore it is very likely they will reoffend.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    I do wonder whether death penalty is most appropriate in smaller jurisdictions like Cayman. In the UK you can relocate the victims far enough away (most of the time, not always) to put them out of reach of these scum bags.

    Here in Cayman though, you can’t. So surely that warrants sending a message? If you will not leave the victims alone – which is what this case basically rests on, then we will take your life from you. We will make you pay; we will make your family pay, we will confiscate everything your associates have until you realise that you do not have anything, you will have nothing.

    Different places call for different attitudes towards justice.

    It’s time to think outside the box rather than trying to apply EU / Western laws to what is a third world, small town in the Caribbean. The same rules simply do not apply – we see that every single day with the traffic, crime, corruption, blah blah blah blah blah.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Death penalty is considered inhumane, based on human rights and, as an British overseas territory, the UK will not allow it.

      I believe, if I’m not mistaken, the death penalty is only available for treason and espionage and, for the death penalty to stick, it’s likely going to have to be acute forms of treason or espionage.

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    • Anonymous says:

      McKeeva made international headlines back in late 1990’s trying to bring back public hangings in central George Town. Something thrilling for the kids and tourists to watch in town. Get a t-shirt, watch a public execution…

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      • Anonymous says:

        One of the few times he wasn’t wrong. Mind you, sexual assault should be one of the offences considered for such punishment.

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  13. Anonymous says:

    That’s one very lucky son!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    Appeal denied, next!

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  15. Victims rights says:

    What about Powery’s family who will never seeing him again. Why is it that the the victim never have any rights only the criminals?

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  16. Anonymous says:

    Poor Justin Ramoon, hasn’t seen his son in 5 years. Boo hoo! Not!

    What about Jason Powery’s mom? She hasn’t seen Jason in almost 7 years and never will again!

    Rot in Belmarsh!

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  17. Anonymous says:

    Do his family members actually want to see him? If not, this is a giant waste of time.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    “Despite being in jail for serious crimes, the prisoners still have a right to visits from family members.”

    Re Ramoon & Douglas – WHY? Why should they have that right? They took that right from the family members of the people they callously killed. Who can NEVER see their loved ones again. Mothers who lost sons, wives who lost husbands, children who lost fathers. At these monsters’ hands.

    They are psychopaths. Who worked in concert with some of their other siblings plus other relatives and friends – from Northward prison!

    There are other victims of Ramoon and Douglas. Jason Powery was not their sole kill. They have not even been prosecuted for at least one murder they committed in conjunction with their brother and at least one cousin.

    In their cases, I wish we still had the death penalty.

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    • Mr. Fixit says:

      I have no sympathy for murderers. It would be better all around if people who kill people intentionally without just cause would be executed. Why put them in prison and spend millions of dollars feeding and caring for them???

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  19. Anonymous says:

    What about the victim’s right to life?

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  20. Anonymous says:

    oh boohoo

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Boo hoo

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  22. Anonymous says:

    Keep them in UK. Never to return to Cayman.They are harden criminals that killed, THEY should never be allowed to return to Cayman.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Who is paying for these consecutive appeals for these two putrid executioners? As a law-abiding and constantly contributing member of Cayman’s society – I am sick of seeing their names on the appeals list. Also, I can’t imagine how frequent public reminder of what they did must feel truly unfair to Jason’s family. Server your time where you are and be glad you are alive to see another day.

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  24. Anonymous says:

    Sorry he should have thought of that before committing the crime. Do the crime pay the time! Let him stay where he is. Jason Powery is not able to visit his kids either. Enough said!!!

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  25. Anonymous says:

    killer criminals have no human rights if they kill someone…period!

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  26. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Ramoon should have thought of his son and his freedom/human rights before robbing Jason of his life, and taking away Jason’s family’s rights to ever see him alive again!

    Please keep this murderer locked up in a far away cage, where both he and his forever-trouble-making brother belong!!

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  27. Anonymous says:

    You lose all rights when you go out and do what these men did

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  28. Anonymous says:

    POS has no business seeing his son anyway.

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  29. Anonymous says:

    boo hoo. You are in jail for committing murder. I don’t care where they send you or how often you get to see your son. You killed someone’s son who gets to see them literally never ever again in this world.

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  30. Anonymous says:

    How many times will we need to hear that HM Northward is not big enough, not secure enough, and not meeting basic standards? Nominating the warden for Royal gongs doesn’t magically make these inadequacies go away. Releasing prisoners too early, to make room for new inmates, has resulted in 36 violent public robberies in last 11 months. Build it!

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    • Anonymous says:

      We simply should send any Cat B and A prisoners right to the UK. Sign a deal with the FCDO.

      Simple. If you want to be a real scumbag, you’re going to the motherland to go and sit with REAL scumbags, leys see how Caymanian, Jamaican or some other yardie nonsense treats you there.

      Cayman only has capacity for a Cat C prison for minor offences, that the truth. The jurisdiction is too small.

      So, let’s speak to the motherland, make the decision and own it. You kill someone down south in the UK? you go to prison up North, same in reverse.

      Putting people 10 miles from everyone they can intimidate doesn’t work. So, let’s accept it, anyone that commits a serious crime should be sent to the UK.

      Probably cheaper that keeping them here in fairness.

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