(CMR) An 18-year administrative officer of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, Evita Dixon, was found not guilty in court Friday afternoon by a jury of six after the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) claimed she had tampered with a criminal file and charged her with breach of trust. The explosive seven-week trial left the defense lead attorney, Courtenay Griffiths, QC claiming that Dixon had been subjected to “a toxic work environment” and subjected to racism by her superiors.
She was accused of having hidden a file for her son and doctoring computer entries in relation to a charge against him for consumption and possession of ganja. They claim that she was attempting to delay anyone finding the file so that eventually it would be statute-barred. There was evidence that instead of inquiring about the location of the file her supervisor immediately went to the authorities and lodged a complaint against her.
Dixon has been on suspension for nearly two years after she was arrested at her workplace parking lot in July 2019 by investigators from the ACC until after former, DPP director Patrick Moran filed a complaint against her. Moran has since left the DPP's office under allegations of racism and mistreatment of Caymanian employees.
Ironically, despite being the complainant in the matter Moran never provided a statement to the ACC nor did he testify in court. In testimony during the trial, it was revealed that the investigating officers did not bother to take any notes during his interview and shared that they felt they were under no obligation to do so.
CMR understands that Moran remains on the island and could have been available to testify but appears to be “missing in action”.
Described by many as an efficient worker and by her defense attorneys as the go-to person in the DPP's office Dixon has started complaining about her treatment after Cheryl Richards left as head of the office and Moran took over. Dixon claimed that Emma Hutchingson, Darlene Oko and Patrick Moran have systematically harassed and bullied her at work subjecting her to racism.
One incident that played a pivotal role in the case was a going-away bus party that Dixon had organized for a co-worker. She did not invite former Senior Crown Counsel Darlene Oko who by all evidence appeared slighted by the non-invite. Oko was one of the persons Dixon accused of bullying her but had shared with co-workers she did not think that Oko would have been interested in attending the party.
Oko took the stand and under oath claims that she was not bothered by the fact that she was not invited. However, three other attorneys in the DPP's office took the stand for the defense and testified otherwise. They called on Gavin Dixon, Stacey-Ann Kelly and Greg Walcolm who all testified about the toxicity in the DPP's office under the leadership of Moran explained that there was a marked difference under his leadership. They also gave evidence that directly contradicted that of Oko about her not having any ill feelings about the invite.
The jury heard that Emma Hutchingson went to Darlene and informed her about the party and that she was not being invited.
In fact, they claim that Oko was so slighted by it that she complained to numerous individuals about not being invited by Dixon. Hutchingson also contradicted Oko's testimony and had shared that she was indeed upset about not being invited to the bus party. The defense relied heavily on why Oko, a senior attorney used to trying high-level cases including child abuse and murder would be inclined to lie about such a similar matter.
Oko also gave evidence that initially, Dixon knew more than her about the inner workings of the DPPs office but later on felt that Dixon would give her a bit of an attitude. She pointed to three supposed incidents to prove her point.
Candia James-Malcolm, who is the acting head of the DPP's office spoke about the negativity in the office. She testified and confirmed that Dixon had complained to her about Oko and Hutchingson and that the atmosphere in the office had changed after Cheryl Richard's departure.
Evita's evidence on the stand was that she and another Caymanian had been told by Moran that he could easily replace them with a person from the UK.
The prosecution brought in Rory Field a barrister from the UK's 15NBS – the same law firm that Moran worked at before coming to the Cayman Islands. They denied any racial discrimination.
Rumors are afoot at Moran has been offered a job in the Cayman Islands at the highest level. CMR awaits confirmation of this from the government who have indicated a press release will be issued shortly.
Darlene Oko has since left the DPP's office and is now working as legal counsel for the office of legal aid.