(CMR) Former police officer Daniel Ezra Meeks (34) was found guilty of defrauding a 73-year-old George Town pensioner in November 2017 after attending her residence to assist with a domestic violence report. It was alleged that he added himself to her land registry papers in order to secure a personal loan for himself, therefore, amounting to misconduct in public office and breach of trust.
The defendant was accused of putting his name on her land papers in order to financially gain from the transaction. He was seeking to purchase a property of his own. By the time the trial wrapped up in mid-December, there appeared to be little doubt to courtroom observers that Meeks would be found guilty.
He claimed the transfer was done so he could look after the complainant’s grandson because she did not trust her own daughter to do so. The judge considered a number of inconsistencies in the victim’s evidence and noted that it was important for her to be able to identify them and determine if there were any credible explanations that would explain the discrepancies. Justice Dobbs accepted that minor inconsistencies would not have any great consequences on her verdict.
She found the victim to be an honest and genuine person and unwavering in her position that it was Meeks that had instigated the entire transaction and not her as he had claimed. There were some minor issues with her recollecting that she had presented her passport to the Notary, Mr. McCoy. The judge accepted McCoy’s evidence that he would not have signed off on the land transfer documents had he not seen some form of valid identification.
The judge also accepted that she didn’t fully understand what she was signing despite Meeks wanting the title to her property to obtain a loan for himself. Justice Dobbs accepted that a logical explanation for these discrepancies was her limited education and that she could not read or write well. Additionally, her state of mind was compromised as Meek’s himself admitted on the stand that she had gone through “a rough time.”
In examing the defendant’s testimony she accepted that she was willing to treat the defendant as a person of good character despite the fact that it had not been established by any of the evidence presented. However, she immediately took note of the numerous grave inconsistences in his testimony which were brought to light by the prosecution on cross examination.
Notably, McCoy gave evidence that he was told that the victim was Meek’s mother-in-law; which the defendant denied. The judge asked herself why would it have been necessary to give that impression and concluded that if the notary believed there was no familial relationship that would have caused immediate red flags and caused him to question the transaction. He would have had concerns and so it was necessary for that lie to be perpetrated.
He also claimed that the victim had pressed him, a man she had only known for a few days, to look after her autistic and severely handicapped grandson and that he accepted out of compassion for her. Yet, he gave no thought to the conflict that the situation created or even where the money would be obtained to go towards the care of the grandson. He also did not raise the transaction with his supervisors. In all, she found his account to be “implausible”
“He was an unsatisfactory witness especially on cross-examination”
She further highlighted other inconsistencies in his testimony including the timeline and explanation for the various visits to the victim’s home. He claimed at one point that she had submitted a withdrawal statement, but there was never any record of one. There was also no official record of his other visits despite him claiming they were undertaken for the ongoing investigation. He eventually conceded under cross-examination by Crown Counsel Candia James-Malcolm that the entire transaction was his suggestion and not the victim as he had previously claimed.
In handing down her decision Justice Dobbs found that there was no reasonable excuse or justification for his behavior and that it amounted to very serious misconduct; so serious that it was a breach of various codes and amounted to criminality.
Meek’s attorney, Margeta Facey-Clarke gave notice of appeal against conviction despite not having the benefit of reading the entire judgment; which the Juge suggested might be useful for her to first do. She also requested a social inquiry report and the judge queried how that was to assist her in this matter.
There was some back and forth about extending bail and in the end, it was accepted that three persons would contribute to the bail.
Donna Marie Dandie agreed to serve as a surety for $10,000. The judge also imposed a cash bond of $50,000 or lien equivalent on an agreed-upon property. A second surety did not qualify on the basis of his immigration status on island. A surety must be Caymanians or status holders. It appeared unlikely that the $50,000 requirement would have also been met. Since Meeks was unable to meet the full bail requirements he was taken into custody and remanded to prison.
The prosecution had initially objected to bail on the basis that Meeks would be facing a serious custodial sentence.
The matter has been set for sentencing on March 27, 2020.