“Of course, I am very pleased with the DPP's decision to drop this matter which I never fully understood the criminal implications of. It's draining to constantly defend yourself against baseless allegations. 11 in ten years is a lot and one gets the sense there is some sort of vendetta against me. 99% were thrown out by the judges with no need to submit a defense.”
Sandy Hill, CMR
(CMR) The Office of Public Prosecution (ODPP) has decided to drop charges against Cayman Marl Road's Sandy Hill in another harassment case where they were alleged that a Honduran woman was harassed by a podcast that aired in November 2019.
The charges were identical to those of another Grand Court matter before Justice Chapple.
Indictment 68 of 2020 alleged that Hill had “without lawful excuse displayed a photograph and aired a show with insulting comments against Eddra Forbes-Dilbert causing her distress.”
Forbes-Dilbert's husband contacted Hill via Facebook making allegations against his wife (Brianna) claiming that she had abandoned the family home with children in Honduras under the guise of coming to Grand Cayman to take care of his sick father.
He then followed up the conversation with WhatsApp messages where he made numerous other allegations against his wife and indicated she wished to join the evening podcast show in order to share his story. Despite being warned by Hill of the implications on him of possibly tarnishing his wife's reputation with his allegations he insisted he would come on and tell his truth. Hill sent numerous voice notes explaining to him that she had a serious responsibility to ensure fairness in the podcast and that he should provide documentary evidence of what he claimed was done by the other party and the nature of their relationship.
He proceeded to send photos, marriage certificates etc. to “prove his allegations”. Hill, in turn, reached out to the wife and informed her of the information provided by the husband and his pending show appearance. She responded without denying his allegations and only shared a few voice notes from him.
She also shared screenshots where several days before she had informed him that they were no longer together as she had entered into a new relationship with a man in the Cayman Islands. Despite that, he felt strongly she was defrauding the immigration system in the Cayman Islands and the authorities should be informed. He also made serious allegations about her health. On the evening of the show, he did not appear and the matter was discussed generally speaking with input from the audience. Most concluded that he was a man scorned and should move on from the relationship.
Hill agreed to a police interview during the COVID-19 lockdown on May 20, 2020. Despite providing the police with voice notes and WhatsApp evidence to show that she had contacted the alleged victim about the pending show and gave her an equal opportunity to make a statement and/or participate which she refused to do.
During the course of that interview, the officer taking the statement began asking Hill what journalistic standards were applied to this matter. He was found to be reading from a sheet he printed off the internet.
When Hill pressed him for where that information was obtained from it appears he did a random internet search and came across it but could not recall where. He did not know what standards are in Cayman and how businesses are licensed to be media. Hill also pressed him for why he thought he had more understanding and knowledge of her media role than she did and how that becomes important during a police interview. She shared:
“I had to wonder if I was being interrogated by the Associated Press for breaching some industry standard” which surely would not have been a matter for the police.”
Some police sources informed Hill that they were of the view that this was never a criminal matter to be referred to the ODPP but that their “higher-ups” insisted the file be sent there.
In the midst of her trial in the Matthew Leslie case, she was informed that the DPP had decided to file charges against her. Hill found the timing to be unusually strategic and felt they were attempting to psychologically undermine her during an already stressful time. This was the first time that any criminal matter against Hill had gone to a full hearing requiring her to give evidence in her own defense.
Initially, Hill had made the decision to allow the matter to remain in Summary Court and be heard by a magistrate. Magistrate Phillipa McFarlane informed the court that the defendant was known to her and she would therefore have to recuse herself from it. However, Hill changed her mind and elected to have the matter go to Grand Court to be heard by a jury of her peers.
Last week Friday, October 20 she made her first Grand Court appearance only to have the DPP's representative ask for a four-week adjournment of the matter indicating they wish to see how the other matters against Hill would be completed before further reviewing this file.
Hill, representing herself, successfully objected to the lengthy delay indicated she was not aware of how the outcome of an unrelated case had any bearing on this current matter and that she was anxious to have the matter dealt with. The judge agreed and instructed them to have the indictment papers served on her within 7-days.
The deadline was today and they have since informed the Grand Court via email that “this file has been further reviewed and it has been decided that these proceedings will be discontinued” and the charges have been withdrawn. Responding to this newest development Hill shared that she was pleased that what she viewed as yet another frivolous case has been discontinued.
This is the first time in over 11 cases in the past ten years that the DPP has discontinued a case against Hill. They have lost all other cases at the no-case submission stage with her agreeing that in one case she may have annoyed someone via text which resulted in a caution from the court and nothing recorded on her recorded. The only successful case was won in August 2020 where a judge found that Hill has harassed Matthew Leslie with a podcast that she did in February 2019. That matter is set for sentencing on September 26.
Another case of disorderly conduct in relation to a protest in West Bay had been dispensed with by way of a plea in Summary Court and will likely be resolved by way of a fine.
Hill is contemplating appealing the harassment case decision and will make a final determination after the sentencing hearing. Numerous members of the media have expressed concerns about the implications of the case for them and continue to keenly watch the outcome. Hill shared that after December she is looking forward to enjoying the holidays with no active cases hanging over her head.
CMR's podcast show The Cold Hard Truth is the first of its kind in the Cayman Islands from a media outlet. Edgy, raw and no hold's bar it appears the show has ruffled the feathers of the establishment who are unaware of how to interpret the show in the normally conservative landscape of news media in the Cayman Islands. Despite that, it is the most popular podcast show and last night broke a new record with some 1,288 persons tuned into the evening session.
The show airs daily in the mornings from 7:30 a.m. til 9:30 a.m. and on Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7:00 p.m. til 8:00 p.m. The show is available on Facebook, YouTube and on various podcast formats including