Two young men were sentenced to prison terms last week after they were found
guilty of burgling a store shortly after Hurricane Ivan.
Todd Bowen, 21, received a term of 15 months and Harrington Rivers, 23,
received 18 months. The difference was that Bowen had no previous criminal
Defence Attorneys Irvin Banks and John Furniss gave notice of appeal.
Magistrate Margaret Ramsay–Hale found the two guilty after hearing evidence
of events in Savannah on 15–16 September 2004, when Grand Cayman was under
curfew and there was no electricity outside of George Town.
A group of Immigration officers, sworn in as special constables, were on
patrol under the leadership of Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Dennis Brady, a
former senior police officer.
Officers heard a noise coming from the direction of Tall Tree and Mr. Brady
radioed vehicles to come to the scene. By headlights and a powerful handheld
light, he and another officer said they saw and recognised two men running from
the gift shop on Pedro Castle Road.
Officers ran after them, but the sound of shots being fired caused them to
drop to the ground.
A car was near by with its bonnet still warm and Mr. Brady posted two
officers to keep observation. Later the officers saw two men come out of the
bush and walk to an abandoned house near the gift shop, then return to the
Mr. Brady was waiting down the road and stopped the car. Bowen and Rivers
Asked what they were doing out after curfew, each said he had been visiting a
girl. Checks by police showed their stories were not true.
The occupant of the house indicated by Rivers said no girl lived there by the
name he had given. The girl named by Bowen denied seeing him; she further stated
that she had been sleeping in the same room with her parents since the
Mr. Banks and Mr. Furniss argued that the untruthful alibi involving the
girls was not evidence of guilt in the burglary; the defendants could have made
up the story because of the curfew breach.
In her reasons for returning the guilty verdict, the magistrate said she was
satisfied that the light described by the officers was sufficient for them to
identify the men running from the shop. But the circumstances of the
identification were undoubtedly difficult. No one here after the storm could
forget the almost impenetrable darkness, she commented.
She therefore looked for independent evidence in support of the
identification before accepting it because honest witnesses may be mistaken.
Extra care had to be taken when the identification occurred at night.
The magistrate referred to other facts relied on in the case put forward by
Senior Crown Counsel Adam Roberts.
For example, Bowen had been seen on the road by a police officer earlier that
night and had told the officer his car was broken down. The officer went to get
jumper cables and when he returned the car was gone.
The car kept under observation was a few yards from the gift shop, but over a
half–mile from where the defendants had said they visited girls.
When the officers watching the car observed two men coming out of the bush,
they heard one of the men make a comment about the stupid police, referring to a
confrontation earlier. The Defence had said there was no evidence that the men
coming out of the bush were the same two men who subsequently got into the
The magistrate said it would be too great a coincidence for two other men to
be walking toward that same house who also would have had an earlier
confrontation with officers.
“This was post–Ivan. Very few people were on the road – not just because of
the curfew but because of the darkness,” she pointed out.
The coincidences and the lies supported the visual identification made by the
officers, the magistrate said in delivering her verdict.
Mr. Banks said it was painful to discuss sentencing options for young men of
Suggesting probation or a suspended sentence, Mr. Banks declared, “We have to
find a way of bringing him back into society.”
The defendant came from a respectable family and had no history with the
court except traffic, he pointed out. All items stolen had been recovered when
they were dropped by whoever ran from the store.
For Rivers, Mr. Furniss pointed to the nature of his previous convictions and
his relatively young age.
The magistrate said sentencing was painful not only to attorneys but also the
court. The entire community suffers the loss of its children to an anti–social
lifestyle that does not profit the young person or advance the community in any
This offence was after the storm – “a harrowing and difficult time for all of
us. You sought to take advantage of someone when all of us were struggling to
come to terms with our losses… Not that burglary after a storm is worse than any
other burglary… but I have to tell you, the fact that you took advantage of the
situation after the storm to steal rather than offer yourselves for service is
appalling,” the magistrate said.