Repeat offender’s sentence reduced

A man described as being ‘in jail more than he is out’ got a three-year reduction in his sentence after Attorney John Furniss argued the principle of ‘totality’.

Mr. Furniss appeared on behalf of Donald Calvin Hooker, who had been sentenced in the Grand Court to eight years three months for burglaries and handling stolen goods (Caymanian Compass, 4 November 2004).

But Hooker had been on parole when he committed the offences. With parole revoked, he had to serve the remaining three and a half years of an earlier sentence before starting the latest one. At 29, he was facing 11 ¾ years in prison.

Mr. Justice Ian Forte noted that Hooker’s problems had started when he was 17. ‘He is in jail more than he is out,’ the judge commented after looking at the appellant’s record.

Mr. Furniss told the Court of Appeal, as he had told the Grand Court, that the offences were committed because of Hooker’s drug problem. There is no ‘halfway house’ in Cayman where he could have stayed to get used to living and working in the community again when paroled, the attorney said.

Court president Mr. Justice Edward Zacca asked if Cayman does not have a ‘supervision order’ that could be made when Hooker was released.

Mr. Furniss said no. The ‘proposed drug court’ met to discuss matters and had suggested that option.

Mr. Justice Martin Taylor observed, ‘So the only thing society can do for a person who has acquired his unfortunate addiction is keep him out of circulation.’

He thought that, bearing in mind Hooker’s three and a half years, eight and a quarter years more was longer than society needed to do.

Mr. Justice Zacca said the court was prepared to allow the appeal on the basis of totality of sentence. It was right that burglaries committed on different dates should received consecutive sentences. However, for three offences committed on one day, sentences of 18 months each were made to run concurrently instead of consecutively.

The result was a reduction of three years, leaving a sentence of five years three months – after the remainder of the parole sentence.