Ex-customs officer’s appeal on drug conviction fails

| 26/04/2024 | 34 Comments
David Lobo

(CNS): Former customs officer David Lobo (39) must continue to serve a 16-year prison sentence after his appeal against a 2019 conviction for importing almost two kilos of cocaine was rejected on Thursday. In January 2019, Lobo was found guilty of smuggling the drug into the Cayman Islands in liquid form, in condoms and swallowed by drug mules. While others involved in the conspiracy admitted their part and gave evidence against him, Lobo denied the charges.

However, telephone messages and the evidence of his co-conspirators indicated that Lobo was not only guilty but also seen by the trial judge as the main protagonist in the criminal venture, which led to his lengthy jail term.

In April 2021, an affidavit sworn by Lesme Romualdo Perez Ruiz, a Colombian national and one of the co-conspirators who had given evidence against Lobo at trial, turned up at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions recanting that evidence. The statement had been sworn almost a year earlier and had been witnessed by the prison chaplain, Cathy Gomez.

In it, Ruiz claimed that the evidence he gave against Lobo was false and that the ex-customs officer knew nothing about the cocaine. Ruiz said he and Lobo were doing business in relation to the importation of Colombian artefacts, but the cocaine smuggling was on him and not Lobo.

He stated that he gave evidence against Lobo because he had been told by Patrick Moran, the director of public prosecutions at the time, that he would serve a very long jail sentence unless he gave evidence against Lobo, and if he testified, he would get a 75% discount on his sentence.

Ruis claimed Moran had visited him at the prison. On another occasion, he had been taken to an office somewhere in George Town, where his lawyer at the time was also present. However, investigations into the origins of the affidavit, its authenticity and the truth of the content led prosecutors to believe the statement was a fabrication. Both Moran and Ruiz’s attorney, Alex Davis, denied the meetings ever took place and there was no record at the prison of Moran ever going there to meet Ruiz.

Scott Wainwright, who represented the crown during Lobo’s appeal, said that, according to the evidence, Ruiz had named Lobo as part of the gang when he was arrested and long before the alleged meetings with Moran. He also noted that the evidence against Lobo, especially telephone messages and his presence at the apartment when the drug was being ‘cooked’ into a powder, was telling.

The appeal court found that the affidavit was “incapable of belief”, especially given the weight of evidence against Lobo. The senior judges said there was no evidence as to how the affidavit came about or why the date on it was almost a year before its arrival at the ODPP. They found the statement was “wholly incredible” and contained obvious untruths.

The appeal court therefore found that Lobo’s conviction was safe and dismissed the appeal.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (34)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Columbian artifacts!!! Lol! Definitely a budding Indiana Jones

  2. Anonymous says:

    I remember this guy offering to take me on a trip with him to Columbia, glad I never took him up on it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t the first time or will it be the last someone in power using their power to commit crime. Happens every day and they get to the top

  4. Anonymous says:

    At last some sensible news.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This ex-officer swore an oath to secure our borders and instead sought to exploit it. Do your time you rotten scoundrel.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Nah today BoBo. You do the crime, you must do the time.

  7. Junior says:

    A clever man overtaken by greed and foolishness. Shame

  8. Anonymous says:

    Not today Lo Bo

  9. Anonymous says:

    Free Lobo, bobo!
    Wendy, you did an ‘Ok’ job reporting on the facts of the case but you missed an important part of the appeal proceedings: The witness Lesme Ruiz was on video ready to testify and disclose everything about the deal at the appeal hearing, but the appeal court president, John Goldring, refused to let the witness speak (I guess the judicial system couldn’t be brought to question). Clearly they’re hiding something. It would have been a fair hearing if they had allowed the witness to testify and then determine if he was credible or not.

    • Anonymous says:

      This drug smuggler was clearly talking shit, and it looks like someone either paid him to make that statement or threatened him or his family if he didn’t make it.

      Either way, letting him give evidence would only have encouraged more ruthless drug smugglers to use the same dirty tactics.

      If appeal courts have to hear all “new” evidence on appeal, with no way to filter out the clear bullshit, no guilty verdict would ever be safe and no case would ever really end. Victims and witnesses would stop coming to court and Cayman would turn into Haiti.

      Goldring was following the rules, and the rules are there to protect us. Thank God.

    • WBW Czar. says:

      Exactly, there is much more to this story. Lobo was indeed dealing with Columbian artifacts.

    • Anonymous says:

      there was more than 1 witness that turned Crown’s evidence against Lobo… and as far as i can see from the reporting there is no suggesting that he was forced to testify or bribed to testify against Lobo.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Tek ya licks ole boy I give a bly for ganja aka a sun dried natural herb not requiring gasoline to process but all that hard powder stuff? Throw the key away


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