20 year sentence for hand chopping

Justice Priya Levers sentenced Henricho Everton Swaby to 20 years imprisonment for causing grievous bodily harm with intent.

Swaby pleaded guilty, admitting that he used a machete to chop Marlene Smith in the neck and shoulder and then cut off her right hand just above the wrist.

He also pleaded guilty to kidnapping Ms Smith’s young daughter and slapping her with the machete, causing actual bodily harm.

A charge of attempted murder was left on file. The Crown accepted the plea to grievous bodily harm partly because the maximum sentence for both is life imprisonment.

Justice Levers told Swaby she believed he was a danger to Ms Smith and any other woman he would have a relationship with.

She said she would like Swaby, 34, deported back to his home country of Jamaica as soon as he comes out of prison.

The charges arose from an incident on the night of Friday, 1 June, in the parking lot of the Compass Centre.

Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn provided details. She also read a victim impact statement from Ms Smith, who said that although her hand was reattached she has little use of it.

Ms Smith’s daughter is from a previous relationship. She and Swaby started dating in the late 1990s and then lived together. They had a son. Everything seemed normal until about 2002, when Swaby started getting aggressive toward Ms. Smith. On two occasions, police were called.

The relationship ceased for a while and then they reconciled. They moved in with Ms Smith’s mother in order to save money so they could purchase a house.

In March 2007 Swaby told Ms Smith the relationship was over and she agreed. He was supposed to move out of her mother’s house, but remained. By May he was still there. He was showing strange behaviour and drinking alcohol. Ms Smith spent several nights with friends because she felt uneasy. He started asking for reconciliation and she refused.

On 1 June, she asked him to take the children to school, which was still part of the normal routine. Arrangements had already been made for Ms Smith’s daughter to be picked up by her father after school and spend the night with him and his mother.

That evening, Swaby went where the girl was staying. He asked to use her cell phone and carried it to his car. The girl followed and he phoned Ms Smith. Then he drove off with the girl in the car, taking her out of the care and control of her grandmother.

Ms Smith was out running errands and the son was with another relative. Then Ms Smith got a call from her daughter saying she was with Swaby. He took the phone and told Ms Smith to meet him at the Compass building.

Fearing for her daughter’s safety, Ms Smith called the girl’s father and a female friend.

Swaby phoned her again and asked where she was. She threatened to phone police and he asked if she was sure she wanted to do that – he had her daughter.

She and her female friend arrived at the car park and she asked Swaby to release the child.

Swaby shouted that he had a gun and would shoot Ms Smith if she didn’t get out of her car to talk to him. She called police for assistance.

Swaby got out of his car and Ms Smith got out of hers. He had the machete and Ms Smith got on her knees, begging him to put the machete down. He continued his approach. She was in fear of being chopped and stood up.

When she did so, Swaby forcibly pulled the girl from his car. The girl’s father, who had arrived by that time, tried to intervene but Swaby threatened to chop him.

Ms Smith started running around the car and Swaby ran after her with the machete and the child in tow. He told Ms Smith to come to him and if she didn’t he would chop the girl — ‘because someone will get chopped tonight.’

When Ms Smith did not respond, Swaby held the girl by her shirt and slapped her twice with the machete. ‘If you don’t come to me, worse will happen,’ he told Ms Smith.

Willing to sacrifice herself for her child, she began walking toward him, her eyes closed. He released the girl, who ran to her father.

Ms Smith felt slaps to her neck and arm and fell to the ground. She thought she was dying without seeing her children.

Meanwhile, the girl’s father had got back into his car and moved it as a shield between Swaby and Ms Smith. Other people came to the scene. Swaby got in his car and drove off.

Moments later the police arrived, Mrs. Gunn said.

After leaving the scene, Swaby phoned someone and said he had killed Ms Smith. His phone number was passed on to police, who called him and encouraged him to surrender.

He did several hours later.

Mrs. Gunn described the injuries he had inflicted. The girl had a bruise to her thigh five by 3 ½ inches and had been traumatised by the incident.

All of Ms Smith’s injuries had been life-threatening and scarring was permanent. She was flown off-island within hours for surgery. Doctors said it was a miracle that they had been able to reattach her hand.

Mrs. Gunn said Ms Smith is depressed because of this limited use of her hand, especially because she was right-handed and now feels she has to rely on other people even for the simplest tasks. She continues to go through painful rehabilitation.

Defence Attorney Ailsa Williamson said the strongest thing she could say in Swaby’s favour was his guilty plea, which spared Ms Smith and family members from giving evidence.

Swaby has lived in Cayman since he was six and had no previous convictions. He had written a letter in which he said his actions were wrong, foolish and insensitive. He apologised for his stupidity and asked forgiveness. He urged the judge not to take him from his children too long.

Justice Levers said it was the most horrendous crime she had come across in Cayman because it involved the manipulation of children.

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