Bush trial over rape allegation delayed on first day

| 24/06/2024
Governor Jane Owen and McKeeva Bush

(CNS): The jury selection process to find at least seven men and women to serve in the trial of McKeeva Bush MP (69), who faces historic rape and sexual assault allegations, failed to get going on Monday, the first day of the scheduled trial, even after his own request for a postponement to give him time to secure leading counsel had been previously been refused. Jurors were sent home in the afternoon after closed-door legal arguments prevented the selection of jurors from moving ahead and delayed the start of the trial.

Bush is represented by Brady Attorneys-At-Law, a local firm of defence attorneys. However, the crown has engaged a senior King’s Counsel from the UK to prosecute the case, and Bush was seeking parity with the crown by having his own senior overseas lawyer. But because the attorney of his choice had a scheduling clash, he had applied for an adjournment until next month. Justice Cheryll Richards, however, had refused the application, stating that Dennis Brady was more than capable of representing his client during the trial.

Brady had argued that, since the case had taken more than two decades to reach the courtroom, two additional weeks would make little difference. He said that in the interest of justice, Bush should be given the opportunity to have the lawyer of his choice represent him. Brady said he did not have the extent of experience of the KC whom Bush wanted.

When she refused the application for an adjournment, Justice Richards had said she must consider a balance of justice: an adjournment could impact the crown’s case but this now leaves an imbalance in experience between the two legal teams.

Very little has been revealed about the allegations against the political veteran and Father of the House — the name given to the longest-serving member of parliament. The charges, which were not laid until June of last year, relate to an accusation that dates back to 2000. Bush has emphatically denied the allegations and claimed that the accusation is politically motivated. He has referred to it as an “evil plot” and a “malicious accusation” made by a woman that he said he has “never had any contact with”.

Meanwhile, visiting judge Justice Roy Jones has been appointed by Governor Jane Owen on advice from the Judicial and Legal Services Commission to preside over the case and address any issues relating to Bush’s political career. Bush has served in numerous capacities during his long career as an MP, including as the Cayman Islands’ first premier and as speaker of the House. He is well known to all members of the local bench.

Justice Jones served in Jamaica as a High Court judge and as acting judge of appeal before being appointed a justice of the Supreme Court of the Bahamas in 2011. He previously served as an acting judge in the Cayman Islands criminal division some 14 years ago.

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