Zuill court document - Aug 201
Alert over sex offender’s court letter’
A child protection agency warned employers to rely on police records for background checks after a sex offender obtained a court letter that wrongly claimed he had no criminal convictions.
Malik Zuill, 22, was sentenced to five months in jail in July, after admitting in Magistrates’ Court that he groomed and sexually assaulted an underage girl in Bermuda in 2015.
After a British television show featured Zuill’s arrest as a fugitive in Liverpool, the offender sent the broadcaster a document on an official court letterhead that claimed he had a clean record for the previous three years.
Zuill shared the same letter with The Royal Gazette and insisted that the story about him be removed from its website.
However, Larry Mussenden, the Director of the Department of Public Prosecutions, has confirmed Zuill was convicted as reported by the BBC and The Royal Gazette.
Neither Mr Mussenden, nor the courts, have explained how Zuill came into possession of the document.
Kelly Hunt, the executive director of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, urged companies to do due diligence to help protect children.
She said: “When performing background checks for employment or volunteering opportunities, a police clearance certificate is the most accurate reflection of an individual’s criminal record.
“This should be required of all employees working with or around minors.”
As part of the Criminal Code Amendment Act, sex offenders are added to the Bermuda Sex Offenders’ Registry upon conviction.
A spokesman for the Bermuda Police Service said that the registry was not open to the public and could not be accessed by overseas employers.
However, he added that most jobs, particularly those that involved children, required a criminal record check in order to apply.
The police spokesman also said: “A report should be made to police regarding any suspected fraudulent document, so that the necessary inquiries can take place.”
The letter provided by Zuill, dated August 21, said: “Re: Malik Zuill. D.O.B. December 28, 1996.
“The above captioned individual has no Criminal convictions recorded at the Courts in the past three (3) years.”
It carried a stamp bearing “the seal of the Magistrates’ Court of Bermuda” and was signed by “Donneisha Butterfield, Court Associate”.
Zuill told the Gazette: “I am asking that you have the article published removed immediately for legal reasons.
“If you cannot comply, I will be forced to take legal action. I have copied in my lawyer, if you have any queries.”
Zuill’s lawyer, Elizabeth Christopher, who was copied into his e-mail to The Royal Gazette, did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr Mussenden confirmed that Zuill had been convicted of a 2015 sex assault early this summer.
He explained: “Mr Zuill was extradited from the UK on April 24, 2019 and held in custody until his trial date which was on July 1, 2019.
“He was charged with luring (communicating with a child for the purpose of committing an offence under the Criminal Code) and committing a sexual assault on a young girl.
“On July 1, 2019 he entered a guilty plea and then on July 8, 2019 he was sentenced to five months’ imprisonment.”
Zuill was released immediately because of time already served in custody.
The Royal Gazette asked if the DPP could explain how Zuill came into possession of the letter, and whether it had investigated how it happened.
Mr Mussenden replied: “I have forwarded your query to the Registrar of the Supreme Court to be addressed in the first instance.”
Supreme Court Registrar Alexandra Wheatley and senior magistrate Juan Wolffe did not respond to a request for comment.
Magistrates’ Court staff confirmed that a Donneisha Butterfield works at court services, but she could not be reached.
Zuill was due to face the charges in Magistrates’ Court early last year, but moved to Britain before his court date.
He was later located working as a cleaner in a hostel in Liverpool and arrested by the Metropolitan Police Extradition Unit.
The arrest featured in an episode of the BBC One television programme Fugitives, which follows the work of the police unit.
The Royal Gazette reported on Zuill’s appearance in the programme last month.
Zuill was also convicted in 2015 of two counts of having carnal knowledge of a 14-year-old girl.
He pleaded guilty to the offences and was sentenced in February to a year in prison, reduced to eight months on appeal.
•To view the letter from the courts, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”
• On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on a story that we deem might inflame sensitivities. As we are legally liable for any libellous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.
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