Wife gets reduced sentence

After a jury found her guilty of attempting to murder her husband, Hilma Carter was sentenced in March 2004 to 15 years imprisonment.

After certain information was highlighted before the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal this week, her sentence was reduced to 12 years.

Howard Hamilton QC argued that the Grand Court judge had not taken certain aspects of the case into consideration when passing sentence.

He spoke of the stress of the marriage relationship. ‘This was not a situation where someone just ups and stabs someone. It’s a build-up,’ he submitted.

There was evidence that the husband was a womaniser, that police had come on previous occasions to settle disputes between Carter and her husband.

The couple divorced after the trial and the settlement of property arrived at was part of Carter’s punishment, Mr. Hamilton said.

He explained that Mr. and Mrs. Carter had owned a piece of land. After debt was subtracted, there was $13,000 left. The judge subtracted $5,000 for Mr. Carter’s hospital bills resulting from the stabbing. The judge then gave the husband 90 per cent of the sum remaining, on the basis that the wife had not contributed. Mrs. Carter received $800.

The court asked whether the stab wounds had resulted in disability to Mr. Carter. Mr. Hamilton spoke of eight injuries, but Crown Counsel Andre Mon Desir said those eight were major out of 27 wounds inflicted.

Mr. Mon Desir quoted one of the doctors who tended to Mr. Carter. ‘We were not sure whether he would survive,’ the doctor said. Mr. Carter’s surgery had started at 3am and ended at 1pm. His lung had collapsed and his gall bladder had to be removed.

Mr. Mon Desir also disagreed with the allegations of abuse. It was more a case of battered husband rather than battered wife, he said.

Noting that the maximum sentence for attempted murder is life imprisonment, he called the 15 year sentence generous.

In announcing the court’s decision, President Mr. Justice Edward Zacca said it was quite clear there was some provocation. That was not a defence and it was not an excuse. But there was some bitterness brought on by the husband’s behaviour, which may have led the wife to do what she did.

The judge emphasised again that this was not an excuse, but it was a factor to be taken into consideration in sentencing.

Also hearing the appeal were Mr. Justice Martin Taylor and Mr. Justice Ian Forte.

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