(CMR) The Office of the Premier has issued a statement denying that Cabinet has actually made an affirmative decision regarding convicted child predator Ato Stephens – despite the Home Affairs Chief Officer, Wesley Howell stating that “they are not considering making a deportation order”
Trinidadian-born track star and coach who was jailed in August for abusing an ICT network by “sexting” with a teenage girl.
After a day of public outrage on the matter, the Premier, The Honourable Alden McLaughlin, now claims Cabinet has not made any decision. There has been no explanation of the statement that was provided to the media by the Home Affairs Office.
Apparently a number of parents have taken to social media, talk shows and privately messaging members of the Cabinet to express their outrage at the decision – which is now being denied. Some parents have also contact CIAA and demanded an emergency meeting to have the association's secretary removed, who is Stephen's wife. One concerned parent expressed her outrage by stating that:
“I am making sure that my membership fees are paid in full and will be contacting CIAA president, Lance Barnes, to request her immediate removal. I am appalled that as a mother she would not see the issue with him remaining on such a small island when they both have the option to live in several countries overseas.”
This peculiar statement claiming to set the record straight appears to directly contract an email that Wesley Howell sent to Cayman Compass stating:
“Ato Stephens was sentenced to 18 months on Thursday, 3 August 2017.
Mr. Stephens’ case was heard by the Conditional Release Board in November 2017 Under the law. Mr. Stephens currently resides in the Cayman Islands on conditional release, his sentence will be served on 4 February 2019.
The Immigration Law (2018 Revision) empowers the courts to recommend that a deportation order should be made in relevant cases, either in addition to or in lieu of sentence. Ultimately, the decision to authorise a deportation rests with the Cabinet. Such decisions are taken after consideration of the facts and circumstances in each particular instance.
With regard to Mr. Stephens’ case, when weighing all of the circumstances including the nature of the offence for which he was convicted and the fact that he has a Caymanian spouse and two Caymanian children, the Cabinet is not considering making a deportation order in this instance at this time.”
Many are of the view that Cabinet is now attempting to claim that a positive decision (indecision) has not been taken and therefore to state that they have decided to allow him to state is technically incorrect. Despite that, the letter from the Premier's office states that Stephens was granted conditional release until February 4, 2019.
He further states that the Court does not make deportation orders; that is a matter for Cabinet. Many are assuming that this means that his Cabinet will do nothing for the next year – effectively allowing him to remain in the Cayman Islands in any event.
In November Stephens ad his appeals against conviction and sentence denied by the Court of Appeal. The Court rejected arguments from the defence on behalf of Stephens, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for the sexual messages exchanged between him and a teenager he was coaching, which included her sending him nude and semi-nude photos of herself.
We will continue to update this story as more information becomes available. The statement from the Officer of the Premier can be read in full here.