Dave Whittaker gets 25 years

Crown asked for lifesentence

Dave Kennedy Whittaker has been sentenced to 25 years imprisonment following his second set of convictions for offences involving violence against a woman.

Whittaker, 42, was sentenced on Friday by Mrs. Justice Margaret Ramsay-Hale. She had found him guilty last month of aggravated burglary, robbery, abduction and several counts of indecent assault (Caymanian Compass, 21 July). All charges arose from an incident in October 2004.

The judge told Whittaker that this was an exceptionally unpleasant and serious sexual assault against a young woman who was not only alone, but particularly vulnerable because of the conditions that prevailed in Cayman after Hurricane Ivan the previous month.

However, she did not accept Senior Crown Counsel Adam Roberts’ contention that life imprisonment would be the appropriate sentence.

Mr. Roberts advised the court of Whittaker’s criminal record, detailing convictions of rape, robbery and assault causing actual bodily harm in 1996. The victim in that incident was a tourist who had gone out on the beach early to see the sunrise. After a jury convicted him, Whittaker was sentenced to 11 years. He was released in early 2003.

A further offence involving forcible sexual contact under the threat of violence against a woman, so soon after his release, showed that Whittaker continued to be a threat to the safety of women in the Cayman Islands. There was nothing to suggest he would not continue to be a threat in years to come, Mr. Roberts submitted.

He urged the court to consider a recent amendment to the Penal Code that provides for a sentence of life imprisonment for a person convicted of a second indictable-only offence – that is, one so serious it can only be dealt with in the Grand Court.

Life imprisonment for a second such offence is not mandatory, Mr. Roberts noted, but the onus is on the court to consider punishment rather than rehabilitation.

He listed the maximum sentences for the offences Whittaker had been found guilty of in his recent trial. He did not go into detail about the facts because the judge was already aware of them. Details included here are from a previous Compass report.

The maximum sentence for aggravated burglary is life. The ingredients of this offence were entering the woman’s house as a trespasser, intending to commit an offence and carrying a knife. The weapon was the aggravating factor.

The maximum sentence for robbery is life. Whittaker was found to have used force against the woman to remove jewellery she was wearing, stealing it and money that was on the premises.

The maximum sentence for abduction is life. This offence occurred when the woman was forced to leave the house she was staying in and go with her attacker to an abandoned house and a beach.

For indecent assault the maximum sentence is 10 years. The assaults occurred at each location and included demands for oral sex.

Taking all these matters together plus the fact that Whittaker had shown no remorse for his actions; Mr. Roberts said this was an appropriate case for life imprisonment.

Attorney Keith Collins spoke on Whittaker’s behalf. He suggested that the legislature may have intended a sentence of life imprisonment for someone like a serial rapist, which was not the case here.

He asked the court to take into account the allegation that Whittaker had imbibed a considerable amount of alcohol around the time of the offence and had smoked ganja. There was no doubt that these substances would have affected actions and good judgment.

Mr. Collins said Whittaker was a hard-working man in a stable relationship with his wife. He was person who would not, in normal circumstances, resort to the type of behaviour described during the trial.

He suggested that the defendant did not need a life sentence, but rather a fairly long term with some treatment for alcohol abuse and ganja.

Whittaker will receive credit for the time he has been in custody since shortly after the incident.

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