Gouldbourne found guilty of murder

After a trial lasting three weeks, John Talmage Gouldbourne was found guilty of murdering Moreen Maree Williams on 18 August 2004.

A jury of nine women and three men returned the unanimous verdict on Friday afternoon.

Daniel Janner QC, who led the Defence, called the matter a tragedy for Ms Williams and her family and the defendant and his family. He said Gouldbourne would be appealing the conviction.

Mr. Justice Karl Harrison, who presided over the trial, said it was not usual for a judge to comment on the evidence, but this was one of the most horrific murders he had ever sat on. He told Gouldbourne, ‘The sentence is that you will be imprisoned for life.’

From early in the trial, the Defence acknowledged that Gouldbourne, 55, had attacked Ms Williams, 29, at his residence in West Bay.

According to the pathologist’s report, she suffered 67 wounds inflicted with a knife, 20 of them ‘taunting’ wounds to the face and neck. One wound caused her lung to collapse. The pathologist said Ms Williams would have been experiencing critical fear during the attack because she would not have been able to breathe easily. The last injury inflicted was a gunshot to the head (Caymanian Compass, 30 May).

But, the Defence argued, at the time of the killing Gouldbourne was suffering from an abnormality of mind that substantially impaired his mental responsibility for the killing. This condition is known as diminished responsibility. The mind includes such things as perception, understanding, judgment and will.

The Defence urged the jury to find Gouldbourne guilty of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

In law, the difference between murder and manslaughter is one of intent.

Whoever causes the death of another person, intending to kill or do serious bodily harm, is guilty of murder. Whoever, by an unlawful act or omission, causes the death of another person is guilty of manslaughter.

The mandatory sentence for murder is life imprisonment. There is no mandatory sentence for manslaughter. It could be up to life imprisonment; an informal check of local manslaughter sentences since 2001 indicates a range of five to 15 years.

In addition to a defence of diminished responsibility, other factors that might impact on a charge of murder are provocation and self-defence. In his instructions to jurors, Mr. Justice Harrison said these did not arise in this case.

He also instructed them on the evidence of expert witnesses. Ordinarily, witnesses are only permitted to give evidence of from their own knowledge — what they saw or heard. Experts are permitted to provide the jury with scientific information or expertise that would be outside the jurors’ own experience.

In this case, they had heard from four experts – the pathologist and three psychiatrists. The three gave evidence as to Gouldbourne’s state of mind.

Mr. Justice Harrison told jurors that if they did not accept the evidence of a particular expert they did not have to act on it. Where the experts were in conflict, it was for the jurors to decide whose opinion they accepted, if any.

The judge instructed the jury that the Prosecution had to prove that Gouldbourne killed Ms Williams by a voluntary and deliberate act and that he intended to kill her or inflict serious bodily harm. But there was no burden on the Prosecution to prove a motive.

If there was no motive, then the jury might wish to consider that, in the absence of an explanation, the overwhelming probability could be that the defendant was suffering from a mental disorder at the time he committed the act.

Further, unchallenged evidence of Gouldbourne’s good character would tip the scale in his favour.

The defendant did not give evidence during his trial. But opinions as to motive or lack thereof came from psychiatrists.

Dr. Hazel Othello and Dr. Marc Lockhart, witnesses called by the Prosecution, were both practising in Cayman in 2004 and they examined Gouldbourne after the killing. They did not have access to family or medical history or psychological testing then.

The Defence called Dr. Harold J. Bursztajn, a professor at Harvard University in Boston, US. He spent time with Gouldbourne in May 2006 and did have access to family history, medical history and data from numerous psychological tests.

Dr. Lockhart examined Gouldbourne again in May 2006. He and Dr. Othello were given copies of Dr. Bursztajn’s report and information he had access to.

The pathologist who examined Ms Williams’ body, Dr. Nadine Williams, had described the killing as a crime of passion, having regard to the nature and extent of the injuries.

Dr. Bursztajn, who was cross-examined via video link, said all three psychiatrists agreed it was a crime of passion. But Drs. Othello and Lockhart said the passion was directed at Ms Williams.

Dr. Bursztajn said in his opinion that passion was misdirected. He noted that Gouldbourne had been married and divorced three times. The third marriage ended in 2003.

In 2002, Gouldbourne was treated for depression in the US, where he lived at the time, Dr. Bursztajn noted. He said treatment was only partial and temporary.

The defendant returned to Cayman in January 2004. By that summer his emotional and financial resources had been drained and his depression deepened to a near psychotic dissociation. He could no longer distinguish between Ms Williams and the other women in his life, including his mother, Dr. Bursztajn opined.

He concluded that the passion of the crime was not directed at Ms Williams, but at the other women Gouldbourne felt he had sacrificed his life to.

In his summing up for the Prosecution, Senior Crown Counsel Andre Mon Desir cited the opinions of Dr. Lockhart and Dr. Othello.

Gouldbourne’s medical history indicated that the US doctor did give him a prescription for depression in 2002. When he went back to the same doctor in 2003 there was no further medication or referral for depression, Mr. Mon Desir pointed out.

When Gouldbourne returned to Cayman he was carrying on life normally. He began seeing Ms Williams about three months before the killing and formed an affinity with her. If a man is depressed, he isn’t going out to look for a woman, Mr. Mon Desir suggested.

Gouldbourne was old enough to be Ms Williams’ father. Dr. Lockhart’s impression of the killing was one of ‘If I can’t have you, no one else can.’

Daniel Janner QC, instructed by Attorney James Austin-Smith, also spoke of the reference to a crime of passion. But there was very little passion in the relationship between Gouldbourne and Ms Williams. The most anyone had seen them do was hold hands or sit together in church.

Mr. Janner argued that, if Gouldbourne was not suffering a psychotic episode, he would be expected to kill Ms Williams in a way that he would not get caught. Instead, he attacked her inside his apartment and did not stop although neighbours were banging on his door and calling to him to stop.

He emphasised Gouldbourne’s behaviour at the scene after the killing and in the hospital. Drs. Othello and Lockhart said he was malingering – faking or exaggerating symptoms of mental illness. But in addition to not speaking, he did not respond to deep pain stimuli.

Such non-response was impossible to fake, the attorney noted. It was only after good nursing and medication that the defendant began responding.

Mr. Janner reminded jurors that all three psychiatrists were professionals doing their best to give their professional opinion, with no ulterior agenda.

Mr. Justice Harrison summarised the conflicting views of the psychiatrists along with other evidence, but warned jurors that they should not decide the issue on the basis of the Crown calling two psychiatrists and the Defence calling one. He reminded them to consider all the evidence and look at the case in a broad, common sense way.

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