(CMR) The Grand Court trial of former police officer Daniel Ezra Meeks (34) started in earnest today as Justice Linda Dobbs began hearing the evidence against him for misconduct in public office. Meeks has been previously arrested and pleaded not guilty to misconduct in public office and breach of trust.
Acting Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and Crown Counsel Candia James-Malcolm laid out the case in her opening arguments and via her key witness today in court. James-Malcolm stated that the only motive for Meeks' action was driven by financial and personal gain.
The court heard how Meeks is accused of being fraudulently added to the land papers of a 73-year old elderly Caymanian lady. The lady, a retired housekeeper, explained that Meeks came to her address on November 10 2017 after she called the police to complain about her daughter.
The daughter has some mental health issues and on that occasion, she smashed up her phone and became aggressive. The witness explained that despite being an only child they struggled with issues surrounding her inability to obtain gainful employment. The daughter is also a mother of a special needs child who is in the care of the government full time.
According to her testimony, Meeks attended the scene and her daughter was arrested and placed in police custody. She then shared that the following day Meeks returned to her residence, unsolicited, in plain clothing and brought her a replacement phone. When she inquired as to why he had brought her this gift he allegedly replied:
“Because you seem to be a nice lady.”
The conversation that day at her dining room table then took a turn. It was at this time that he initially asked her if she could assist him with obtaining an apartment. He explained that he was looking for someone to stand responsible for him to be able to get an apartment. He further shared that he had two sick children and his current living quarters were cramped. She shared that she outright refused to assist him telling him that she could not do that. She explained to him that given her advanced age she would not be able to assist him. However, she also shared that her house which she lived in since 1982 had been paid off since 1995. She further shared that she wished to leave the home for her grandson. Meeks appears to have promised her that he would visit her grandson after sharing that he does community service. He did meet the grandson on one occasion at Maple House. Since his mother had no transportation she welcomed his apparent generosity.
At one point she became very emotional and began crying during her testimony as she admitted she knew something was gravely wrong despite not being able to properly read or write.
She retired around 2004 and survives on a small pension. He insisted she put her name on papers had “already had drawn up” for her. She was told to sign the papers which she did. Explaining why she did so she noted:
“I signed it because I was alone, afraid and overwhelmed. I can’t read that well, and I didn’t know what I was signing.”
About a week later on November 16, Meeks brought her some fruits and “a bottle of something” for a third visit. On this occasion, he took her to a justice of the peace for a five-minute meeting. She shared that she was told to sign some documents and nothing was explained to her by either party. Apparently not fulling understanding the transaction the pensioner told the court today:
“He did not read me my rights and I didn't know what my rights were.”
He stated on numerous occasions during her testimony that she was scared. After the meeting with the JP Meeks dropped her home. The events of the day left her feeling uneasy and was unable to sleep that evening. She then shared with the court the reason for her feelings:
“I think I messed myself up by signing that document”.
On November 26, 2017 she went to the George Town Police Station and lodged a complaint against the officer. She also shared that she signed a letter, which someone assisted her with, to the Lands & Surveying Department attempting to undo whatever she had done with Meeks.
She wrapped up her prosecution witness by sharing:
“Feels very sad and worked very hard for my place. I would never do that pass it over to some stranger.”
The judge offered some criticism of the Lands & Surveying document stating that the manner in which it was written was not legal given that it essentially said that the property has been sold to Meeks for $275,000. Crown Counsel James-Malcolm explained that in fact he had only been added to the property and it was not an outright transfer. The judge appeared confused at why the document was laid out in that manner and wondered why it has not corrected.
Meeks was an RCIPS officer on a three-year fixed-term contract that was not renewed in December 2017. He has pleaded not guilty and is represented by defense attorney Margeta Facey-Clarke. The trial continues.