DPP called witness in Bush trial against her wishes

| 05/03/2024 | 47 Comments
McKeeva Bush arrives at court

(CNS): Justice Stanley John has lifted reporting restrictions on the recent trial of McKeeva Bush (69), which collapsed last week as a result of a serious abuse of the process by the crown in relation to how they brought the case against Bush for indecent assault and the information that was withheld from him and his legal team. From the very beginning, police and prosecutors were aware that one of the alleged complainants, who was bitten on the hand by Bush at a cocktail party, did not wish to file a complaint or take part in a prosecution over what she said was an unintentional act.

The West Bay MP and member of the UPM government, who was speaker of the House at the time, had allegedly assaulted two female civil servants at an official social event during the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s conference held on Grand Cayman in September 2022. Bush vehemently denied the charges, which have now been discharged following a successful argument by his attorney to stay the proceedings.

During the course of the trial, the jury heard how the first of the two women had endured unwanted touching by Bush, who had also kissed her bare shoulder twice during an uncomfortable interaction as he arrived at the cocktail party.

The witness had been reluctant in the first instance when asked by the police to pursue charges against Bush because she did not think his behaviour was indecent and didn’t warrant him being taken to court. But a few days later, she agreed to give a video statement and to press ahead with a formal complaint.

However, the second witness continued to maintain that she did not see what Bush had done to her as a crime. Although she described the unpleasant encounter with him as “weird and creepy” and even as “disgusting”, she said it was not criminal and that if she had believed it reached the level of assault, she would have reported it to the police immediately.

The witness sent a message to her boss on the evening of the incident describing the bite as an accident, which she later defined as unintentional. However, this message was never revealed to Bush until part-way through the trial and only as a result of persistent efforts by Sallie Bennett-Jenkins KC, who was leading Bush’s legal team, to get the crown to release all of the relevant material.

The witness had also given a written account to her senior managers, not to report the crime but to document what had occurred that night because Bush was drunk and behaving inappropriately at an official event.

After that, she had given a video interview to the police to ensure that her version of events, rather than the distorted versions flying around, were properly recorded. But she had made it clear that she was giving the information as a witness to Bush’s behaviour in general that night rather than as a complainant.

She consistently stated that she did not see what Bush had done as a crime.

As the trial developed, it emerged through various legal arguments that the witness had no idea that the police had continued to use her evidence to pursue Bush. She was surprised when told by the police that he had been charged in relation to biting her.

It then appears that there was very little communication between prosecutors and the witness until days before the trial was due to start when she was issued with a summons threatening her with arrest if she did not testify. The woman had said all along that what happened did not amount to an indecent act, and she had never given her consent to use what she had said to charge Bush with a crime against her.

During legal arguments, Bennett-Jenkins had argued that the crown had “ridden roughshod over the wishes” of the witness, who had never wanted to pursue a case against Bush or come to court. Given the lack of evidence that there was any intention to assault, this case should never have been brought, she said.

She had also argued that ever since Bush was charged, the defence team had been seeking disclosure in relation to the correspondence that existed between the women and officials, police and prosecutors, but “evidence vital to the defence was not released until the week of trial”.

The court also heard during the course of the arguments that neither of the women in this case had made a report to the police and that it was only when the police contacted them that they gave any information.

Bennet-Jenkins had pointed out that the investigation was never based on an actual complaint; even the police officers assigned to the Protocol Office for the event who were at the party and witnessed Bush’s behaviour with one of the witnesses had given evidence saying that they had not seen anything criminal. It appeared that the investigation was not prompted by the women or the police but had been initiated by others.

Bennett-Jenkins successfully argued that the crown had abused the process and withheld material from the defence that was relevant to support Bush’s position and should have been disclosed before Bennett-Jenkins cross-examined the women. She said that information had “to be dragged” from the director of public prosecutions, and the way they used the witness was “a wholesale manipulation” of the process.

This behaviour of the prosecutors in this case did give the judge cause for concern, and he stayed the proceedings last Thursday and discharged both the jury and Bush.

So far there has been no comment from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions about the findings against the office or if the judge’s decision to throw out the case will be appealed. Governor Jane Owen issued a short statement on Monday indicating that she would be making no comment until the judge completes his full written ruling.

“It would, therefore, be inappropriate for the Governor to make any comment until the reasons in the full written judgment are provided,” Owen stated, avoiding having to answer any awkward questions about the role of DPP Simon Davis or that of her predecessor, Governor Martyn Roper, as it is understood that he had been in correspondence with other senior civil servants about the prosecution of Bush.

The opposition leader has raised his own concerns, stating that the judge’s short ruling issued last week was a “very damning finding” which the governor and the Judicial and Legal Services cannot turn a blind eye to.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (47)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Actual bodily harm (ABH) means the assault has caused some hurt or injury to the victim. Physical injury does not need to be serious or permanent but must be more than “trifling” or “transient”, which means it must at least cause minor injuries or pain or discomfort. Psychological harm can also be covered by this offence, but this must be more than just fear or anxiety.

    Sexual assault happens when someone either touches another person in a sexual manner without consent or makes another person touch them in a sexual manner without consent. It includes unwanted kissing and the touching of someone’s genitals, breasts or bottom.

    Say no more….

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is very scary stuff!!

    • Ezra says:

      Let’s call it like it is people. The Justice system has now stopped smelling its rank and has decided it’s time to wee wee all over us. Not forgetting that the great numbers from within are foreigners who have been paly paly with some of our so called leaders who have bestowed upon them the Iron hammer which they pund we i.e. the Caymanian people when infractions of the jaw are committed but turn a blind eye when cases come up that concern their fellow country men/women!!!

      Blame the so called leaders who kissed up to them and gave them a leg up , blame the ignorant fools yes for not assuring that caymanians were given the opportunity to take on the positions that are now being handled by foreigners in the judicial system. Now we bear the burden of having those whose mission should be to uphold the law and due process, corrupting it for whatever and whoever desires to teach us a lesson.

      Mind you as many have said this is a serious situation with acute tones of civil unrest in the future. I hope not but if wee weeing over us is the start imagine what next.

      God protect these Cayman Iskands from those who wish to see us fail. May we have acute discernment in choosing our leaders that will have the courage to protect and preserve Justice and democracy within these Islands that He hathFounded ion upon the Seas. Selah. So Mote it Be. ✊

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. F. Jokin says:

    and you wonder why our kids behave badly…..role models, sorry lack of role models for our young men.

  5. Anonymous says:

    No one can argue that what McKeeva Bush did was acceptable but I agree with the women who were dragged/forced into this, what he did was not criminal.

    I am more concerned about the DPP’s lack of judgment in pursuing this case. Their star witnesses did not report his actions to the police, the police officer who witnessed what happened with one of the ladies said what Bush did was not criminal and one of the witnesses was threatened by the police and told that she would be arrested if she did not testify! Incredible. Even if you despise Bush, it seems to me, an ordinary Joe, that his behaviour should have been dealt with another way, and not as an expensive court case which has only exposed how incompetent the office of the DPP is. We all know that Cayman has far bigger problems and very serious crimes that the DPP should be tackling.

    Our legislators just recently voted to give our government more power over the people via the Civil Proceedings ( Closed Material Procedures) Bill. At this stage, all the general public can do is hope that the government will not abuse the process via this new tool.

    • Anonymous says:

      The article says “..little communication between prosecutors and the witness until days before the trial was due to start when she was issued with a summons threatening her with arrest if she did not testify.” The article does not say she was threatened by the police, but the prosecutors. Also “It appeared that the investigation was not prompted by the women or the police but had been initiated by others.” This is not a case of a mean-spirited complainant or over-zealous police. It’s worse than that.

      • Anonymous says:

        All of the witnesses would have been summoned to court though. Summonses always have the caveat that if you don’t show you would be arrested. That’s normal. So I am not sure why this is being written about as if it’s abnormal?

        • Rick says:

          Threatened with arrest for not giving evidence is not the same as an arrest for failing to appear in court.

      • Annonymous says:

        If the alleged assaults took place in public, anyone could have called the police!

    • Anonymous says:

      So why is this different than if it was a domestic dispute and the spouse did not wish to pursue charges.

  6. Anonymous says:

    In most first world jurisdictions the victim does not have to agree to press charges when it comes to domestic violence or sexual assault.

    The decision lies with the Crown Attorney or DA as to whether or not they move forward with charges based on the evidence.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Does anything work in Cayman? However, based on the article it does appear that one witness was prepared to file a complaint, the other not. Do you throw out the entire case because there is only one complainant? The evidence given by the police officers seemed to support the charge. Compelling witness to testify is a tactic used in serious cases where witness intimidation is a factor and the case is sufficiently serious, though can’t really be justified here. But that is a separate issue. The entire judicial system here, police, prosecutors, judges, etc. is irretrievably broken.

    • Anonymous says:

      It came out in court that the first witness had made up her mind to give a statement only three hours after the police called her.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If you think Mckeewa is only one doing this in government you kidding yourself we need a new unit set up to look into this the strategic Sexual harassment reporting Unit SSHRU ! We got everything else ?

    • Anonymous says:

      So why is this different than if it was a domestic dispute and the spouse did not wish to pursue charges.

  9. Anonymous says:

    the usual incompetence by police/dpp/civil service….
    just another day in wonderalnd.

  10. Anonymous says:

    mckeeva …the perfect example of why cayman should never even consider independence.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Should have been my wife then I would prosecute him with a few right hands

  12. Anonymous says:

    This was nothing short of a political attack by those who aspire to take Mr Bush’s seat next election. The rumour mill has been churning for months suggesting that a certain civil servant in high office has hopes of becoming the next Premier. The same rumour has it that the same civil servant and minion interfered by engineering the rewrite of one of the statements later used to force one of the ladies to reluctantly come forward as a witness. Given this, the police need to be questioned extensively and a proper investigation be carried out to determine who exactly was involved. Corruption comes in many forms and allegations of it happening in stealth mode in the civil service has been rife for years, so root it out and expose it! I like to think that Cayman is better than this but if we allow deep seated corruption to continue then we will get what we deserve. Bush may have many faults but no one deserves this.

  13. Anonymous says:

    No matter which way this trial has gone…

    It is weird and creepy that he acted like this. And highly inappropriate for him to be drunk when he is at a reception in an official government capacity.

    West Bay – please do not elect this man again next time.

    • Anonymous says:

      bayers will have no problem re-electing a convicted woman beater…just like pact/ppm had no problem with him being the speaker of the house.
      welcome to wonderland.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not to mention we as a country were mourning the death of our Monarch. What a disgrace he is!

    • Anon says:

      And we were as a country officially mourning our Monarch’s death at the time. He is a disgrace to all Caymanians!

  14. Anonymous says:

    this place is unbelievably f*****, its a f****** mess. As much as I’d like McBeater prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (every single time), there’s a process. At this point we can’t trust our politicians, we can’t rely on our criminal justice system, Ms Hostile Environment is fricking useless and now we can’t even trust the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, – Haiti here we come.

  15. Anonymous says:

    So, where is the Attorney General in all of this? What is the purpose of his role, and high salary from the public purse, if not to be ultimately responsible for the country’s legal affairs? The RCIPS falls under the remit of the Deputy Governor does it not? They should both be suspended from their duties until a thorough investigation is carried out to determine who exactly were the officials interfering in this case. It reeks of corruption!

  16. Anonymous says:

    I’m not surprised she didn’t want this to go to trial civil servants are terrified to speak up out of fear of losing their job or being treated badly in the office. The government will have to address this at some point before they get slapped with another lawsuit.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is not the wild wild west.
    This is not supposed to be a land of kangaroo courts, but the DPP and his minions seem to be heading us in that direction.

    I also call for the immediate suspension and investigation of the DPP and those responsible for this blatant travesty and inexcusable abuse of justice. If abuse of process is found (which it already has been found and by a judge no less) they must be immediately discharged from the employ of the government.

    It is bad enough that they are alleged to have committed abuse of process. But their acts also allowed the subject to once again escape justice.

    Their mishandling of the case places a black eye on the reputation of the Cayman Islands and its system of justice. If they did what the judge alleges, ZERO tolerance should be afforded the legal hacks who are responsible. They are not above the law.
    Fiyah dem!

    • Anonymous says:

      Bush was and is not supposed to be above the law and has been found guilty previously, why has he never been discharged from government and still strolls around like kingpin and recently selected to a committee whilst still in court….

  18. Anonymous says:

    Everything I have read points to assault … wth??

    • Bush Tea says:

      The ladies clearly wanted to keep their jobs within the government, therefore chose not to report and acknowledge that what happened to them was sexual assault.

  19. Res Ipsa Loquitur says:

    The Deputy Governor and Governor’s office have to bite the bullet and now FIRE DPP this is a gross abuse of office. It is highly probable that the Governor’s office and previous Governor Martin Roper were involved in deep discussions on this case given the high profile politician.

    Then there must be a formal review of the competencies and ethics of every member of the DPP’s office. Time to cull the incompetence. It will cost this country dearly.

    RCIPS investigators are also complicit and have to be held accountable.

    Today McKeeva Bush (who is far from innocent for many things) tomorrow you or me.

    • Anonymous says:

      Louder for the people in the back – I can’t understand why there isn’t more outrage about this. No wonder there is little to no public confidence in the system.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tomorrow you or me – very appropriate comments.

      The police on Brac, under the lack of leadership from Chief Inspector Malcolm Kaye, and a bumbling Chief of Police Kurt Walton tried to coerce me into giving statements about an incident on the Brac

      I told them to send me an email with what they were requesting and I would seek legal advice — and would be in contact. Then I proceeded to start recording the police on public property that all of us were on. They left (wanna see the recording?)

      Absolutely no email from anybody in RCIPS.

      While I do not agree with some of the things Mr. McKeeva does, it does not give the police/government the right to circumvent the process.

      You wonder why so many of us are reluctant to come forward to the police – need to bring those who tried to coerce the witnesses to trial now – dare you. Won’t happen. But hey there is always an open spot at the USA Department of Justice for you if it does happen.

      Supreme Court votes 9-0 (unanimous) against stupid attempts to alienate voters in USA. What does that have to do with Mr. McKeeva – absolutely nothing, but it is ironic how much certain people hate powerful/popular politicians.

      Sign Me,

      We all bleed red, don’t we.

      • Anonymous says:

        Only one witness was allegedly “coerced”. But my question is does an off duty police officer or a witness have the authority to state what is assault? Or is that the job of the DPP based on what evidence the police delivers to them? Seems to me the RCIPS is more at fault here!

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is how a lifetime of unacceptable behavior becomes so normalised and expected that the victims selected are already inured and do not understand what they have just experienced.

    Is the concept of a hostile witness novel to both prosecution and judiciary?

    • Anonymous says:

      so you’re telling me, the victims are confused and you know how they should feel? that very mindset is what lunatics are using to mutilate children in the name of gender expression.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am sure it is not. Nor is the concept that the victim is not the determinant of whether an offence has been committed or should be prosecuted. But that is not why the judge threw it out. The failure to disclose relevant evidence to the defence is the issue, and what the judge found so disturbing.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t anyone knows why the case was thrown out, even the judge. There is no indication the prosecution withheld material information from the defense. Pressing a witness to give evidence is not in itself an abuse of process. I expect that even when the judge provides a written explanation, it will be no clearer.


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