(CMR) The prosecutor laid out its case against the Speaker of the House Thursday as it shared that McKeeva Bush punched, pulled hair, threw bins and choked the manager at Coral Beach on the evening of February 21, 2020 in a three-part attack.
The sentencing hearing began after some contention about what Bush was actually admitting to. Bush pleaded guilty to three out of the four counts against him in what the crown says was an 11th-hour guilty plea.
His lawyer, arguing for leniency claimed that Bush has led an exemplary life dedicated to serving the people of this country for 36 years as a representative for West Bay and should be given some leniency with no conviction recorded.
Laying out the case for the prosecution, Patrick Moran, the Director of Public Prosecution shared that on the evening of Friday, February 21 Bush was at Coral Beach. The popular restaurant bar was frequented by him as the father of one of the co-owners of the property.
At some point in the evening, he left Coral Beach to visit Pepper’s Bar and Grill but later returned unable to maintain his balance due to his intoxicated state. Due to his inebriation, he fell to the ground and “stayed there for some time.”
A male member of staff tried to assist him unsuccessfully. Eventually, the general manager, the victim of his assaults also attempted to assist him. The court heard how her attempts resulted in her being assaulted on three different occasions during the course of a 20 minute period of time that evening.
The victim made at least three phone calls to Richard Parchment in an attempt to allow Bush to leave the premises “discreetly”. However, the evidence submitted which included the viewing of CCTV footage showed that Bush turned violent and attacked the general manager of the facility after accusing her of harboring lesbians there.
The initial assault, which the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly refused to plead guilty to included pulling her hair and he then “swung his hand at her hitting her in the head”. Her cell phone was then thrown against a wall. The phone was retrieved by a staff member and handed back to her.
Bush’s attorney said he was not willing to accept those events nor deny them because they had not been caught on camera.
In her statement to the police, the manager shared that she was unable to get her hair from the defendant for a time.
The Crown showed footage from various cameras on the property throughout the onslaught. After the initial attack which took place in an outside area by some umbrellas, he then proceeded to go towards the kitchen area where he threw two plastic kitchen tubs at her head. Defending herself by raising her arms she sustained bruises to the forearm.
The victim then went on to the kitchen to warn staff about the West Bay representative. However, she was followed by Bush who then attacked her for the third time. The video footage of this final attack was crystal clear and in full color. It showed Bush thrashing her around in the kitchen were upwards of five persons stepped in to pull him off of her.
Bush grabbed her by the neck and choked her and can be clearly seen throwing her about. She sustained bruising to her neck.
Throughout the evening Bush has overheard swearing and telling her that the premises were his which invoked the disorderly conduct charge. She sustained injuries to her leg, which required physiotherapy and loss of sensation for a time. He also had injuries to her arm and neck.
After overcoming her initial shock at the assault she contacted the police about 12:30 a.m. to report the incident. Initially, she had asked for Bush to be warned. However, upon further reflection, she shared that she was tired of constantly being verbally assaulted by Bush and decided to have charges filed.
The crown provided photos of her injuries. At around 10:35 p.m. she sent photos of her injuries to the Coral Beach WhatsApp management group. She later shared that Bush “had a punching fight with me this is not acceptable, I'm sorry but I am done”.
At about 10:56 p.m. Bush sent his own WhatsApp message to the group claiming that she was the aggressor. His message read:
“so tonight X attacked me because I told her that Coral Beach was not her lesbian hangout … the motherf****** lesbian kicked me in the side.”
The crown pointed out inconsistencies in his story including what he said in the WhatsApp message which showed a clear intent to blame the victim versus what he said to the police the following morning. His story then changed again when he claimed in an apology letter that he had no recollection of the events of that evening after blacking out when he fell.
The defense also played the CCTV footage which they had joined together in its entirety and Michael Alberga QC asked the judge to interpret certain aspects of the video. When she asked what exactly was she to be looking for there appeared to be an insinuation that he was being assaulted by the victim.
At one point Alberga referred to the DPP’s as being obsessed with Bush making a full admission of the facts.
The crown had made it clear earlier that if this line of defense was to be used in mitigation during the sentencing procedure a Newton hearing would be invoked to call live witnesses. Alberga appeared to then backtrack from that position and focused on Bush’s extension history as a legislator.
He noted that there was “hardly an area of cayman that has not benefited” from the various ministries etc. that Mr. Bush has headed up.
He shared that Bush was profoundly apologetic and extremely remorseful and deeply regretted becoming that intoxicated. He shared that Bush had already undergone extensive counseling after the incident.
In asking for the lightest possible sentence Alberga shared that other unnamed elected officials have “mishaps” which resulted in no conviction being recorded against them.
The judge did ask about alternatives to that and it was suggested he could be bound over for a period of time, fined and face community service.
The crown agreed that there was no premeditated intent but held there were aggravating aspects including him calling her a lesbian and his late guilty plea.
Magistrate Gunn is expected to render a decision before Christmas.