“I would have been madder than hell and would have said so loud and clear. There is no doubt in my mind if this was the USA there would be lawyers fighting to represent her in a case against the police and the DPP for victimization.”
(CMR) Sandy Hill contends that long-standing victimization of her has been put into high gear yet again after she was informed this week that the Office of Public Prosecution has instructed the police to charge her with bribery over a without prejudice email sent to local attorneys, Priestley, who represented John Felder in a 2019 defamation case.
Hill was informed by the police several days ago that the DPP's office informed them that charges should be laid against her following the complaint, which was made in January 2022. The charges apparently are Penal Code offenses (1) s. 259(1) – attempting to obstruct the course of justice and s. 107(d) – blackmail.
Felder ultimately lost the defamation lawsuit and was ordered by the Grand Court to pay Hill's $50,000 legal bill, which he has refused to do.
John Felder filed a criminal complaint with the RCIPS only after his default judgment was thrown out by Justice McMillian, and it was evident he would not be receiving the $105,000 judgment ordered by Justice Carter. Ironically he wanted some five months before complaining that her attempts to settle the matter were somehow a form of “bribery”.
In refusing her offer, his attorneys did not mention bribery but instead claimed that it went against the default judgment they obtained for Felder after Hill did not file her defense to his lawsuit by the required deadline.
The offending email in question was sent on 14 August 2021 to Priestley's Attorneys-At-Law, in an effort to settle the matter between the parties two days after Justice MacMillian instructed the parties to make all attempts to do so. It was not until January 2022 that Felder complained to the police.
His attorneys claimed that if Hill published evidence that unequivocally proved Felder (1) was terminated from his employment (2) owed half a million dollars in outstanding debt/loans (3) lied about having control of the company after he was fired (4) refused to provide liquidators with documents (5) issued a cease and desist letter by his former employer and (5) was the subject of a settlement agreement three years after failing to deliver a Tesla. Priestley alleged at the time that the publication of these stories would run afoul of the initial default order that Felder received in his favor. Still, no action was taken by then as a result of the publication and expose of Felder.
Speaking exclusively to CMR, Hill replied, “the matters were unconnected, and that is why they knew it was a simple idle threat. We were not repeating any defamatory comments but providing the evidence to demonstrate they were not defamatory in the first instance.”
By the time Felder contacted the police, his judgment and a cost order by Acting Justice Marlene Carter has been thrown out by Judge MacMillian in a scathing judgment in October 2021. Hill makes the following observation:
“Felder is well aware that he lost the civil case at that point, and there was no recovering from it, so he has successfully abused the criminal justice system to hopefully achieve something he could not in a civil court. The judge was very clear in expressing his disappointment in the entire matter and noted how in fact, I was the victim in those proceedings and stood to lose a lot. Something his attorneys were raked over the coals about during the April 2022 hearings.”
As previously reported, MacMillan did not mince his words when he shared that a litigant in person (Hill) would have been subjected to a “devastating judgment” that could have had far-reaching negative repercussions. His disdain for the way in which Felder and his attorneys pursued the matter was expressed in rather strong and unambiguous language.
He stated that they had months to rectify their error and refused to do so and, in fact, even provided the court with sworn affidavits that contradicted what had actually transpired.
Hill noted that she is really surprised that the DPP's office continues to pursue her relentlessly and shared that this is now at least 7th case with them not including a civil judicial review case that she also won.
CMR was able to verify the following criminal cases over the past 13 years against Hill :
- Dog theft case (2010) – dismissed by the Summary Court Acting Magistrate Foldats
- Property Damage case (2010) – dismissed by Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsey-Hale
- Abuse of ICT (2013) – No conviction recorded (won Judicial review case over unlawful search warrant)
- Nation Building Case (NBF) (2016) – dismissed by jury on the instruction of Grand Court Judge after finding “fatal flaw” in charges
- Abuse of ICT (2020) – DPP withdraws charges ahead of trial
- Abuse of ICT (2020) – Conviction – subject to a Court of Appeal appeal pending court release of requested transcripts
- Bribery/Perverting the Course of Justice (2023) – this matter
The editor of iNews Cayman, Colin Wilson, shared in a 2013 editorial that Hill's complaints of a vendetta might have some merit. He noted that the Minister of Education Tara Rivers spoke of numerous issues with the NBF payouts, and if no one else was charged other than Hill, then it was obvious there was validity to her assertions.
No one else was ever arrested or charged with any irregularities stemming from the National Building Fund other than Hill, despite some shocking information that eventually came out about the recipients, which included numerous churches across the Cayman Islands.
In 2016 Editor Colin Wilson once again discussed the victimization of Hill by noting that:
“In the last FIVE years she been prosecuted by the DPP FIVE times over the most menial of things and even an untrained legal mind like mine has wondered why? Even I could have won my case on the easier ones and therefore I have to question the reasoning behind it.”
He asked the logical question of why she was singled out for prosecution over the failed National Building Fund that saw millions of dollars dolled out by former Premier McKeeva Bush. From December 2009 to June 2012, spending from the Cayman Islands “Nation Building Fund” topped $9.5 million. Hill offered Caymanians paralegal training through her company, Micro Matrix, and was paid a mere $30,000 and yet was the only entity taken to court. This is despite other individuals receiving $65,000 to play basketball and churches receiving over $4 million from the now-defunct fund.
Hill expresses her concerns that she continues to be the subject of unfair rulings from the DPP's office and cites the number of cases that have been thrown out by the courts for lack of any case to answer as proof. She shared,
“I will not be silenced by the DPP's office, who had police officers approach me last year offering to not charge me criminally in another matter if I only took down a story about two of their employees. Of course I refused and told them that no one should be brokering such a deal in a covert effort to silence the media.
If I am being charged, then their officers should also be charged. My negotiations were in the context of civil litigation and on the instructions of the judge. They were trying to bribe me and pervert the course of justice by using threats of criminal charges to muzzle the truth. I have asked the CoP to now have that matter investigated.”
Priestley came off the record and no longer represented Felder shortly after the Consent Order was signed in April 2022.
Hill has expressed that she now intends to alert international media groups and human rights organizations both regionally and across the globe in her continued fight for free speech in a country “hell-bent on criminalizing it.”
Hill has not yet been served any legal papers in this latest debacle but is expected to have them in the coming week when she will make her first appearance. Hill is presented by Cayman's leading criminal defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene.