Judge explains sentencing rulings

The Court of Appeal went into detail to explain why three people had their sentences reduced while two others did not. The session ended earlier this month.

The appeal of Latecia Jarrett was argued by Attorney Stephen Hall -Jones. Jarrett had received a sentence of 10 years after pleading guilty to five offences, including aggravated burglary and robbery.

Mr. Hall-Jones explained that, apart from a drug consumption charge and possession of a utensil, Jarrett had an otherwise clean record when she committed the aggravated burglary.

He said the aggravating factor was Jarrett being in possession of a knife at the time. The knife was to help her gain entry, not anything more. The complainant in the burglary was someone whom Jarrett believed owed her money.

The rest of her offences, in 2005, were at commercial premises and, except for one, involved other offenders.

The sentencing judge gave her 10 years for the aggravated burglary and made other sentences of six and eight years run concurrently.

Mr. Hall-Jones said this was wrong in principle, since a first offence of aggravated burglary would attract six years at most on a guilty plea.

Court president Justice Edward Zacca agreed with Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees that the totality of Jarrett’s sentences had to be considered, but said there are times when a court should consider consecutive sentences.

He agreed with Mr. Hall-Jones that aggravated burglary of a residence would attract six to eight years on a not guilty plea. Since Jarrett was a first offender who pleaded guilty, the court substituted a sentence of six years.

All her other sentences remained the same, including an eight-year term for robbery. The effect of her appeal was to leave her with a sentence totalling eight years instead of 10.

The question of consecutive sentences came up again in the appeal of Anthony Bryan, who had received a term of 10 years after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to his girlfriend. He received a term of six years, to run concurrently, for causing grievous bodily harm to another man.

Bryan was sentenced for the attack on the woman first because he entered his plea to that offence first, even though it occurred eight months after he deliberately drove a car into the man.

Justice Zacca said it seemed to him the sentencing judge could have proceeded another way. If the judge wanted Bryan to have a prison term of 10 years, there should have been separate sentences to total 10 years.

‘Each case must be sentenced on its own set of facts,’ he said. The sentences could have been six and four or five and five. Instead, the judge had jumped to 10 and said ‘This is what I want you to serve.’ ‘

The offences were eight months apart and the victims were different. They were not different offences arising out of the same incident, so the sentences should have been consecutive.

Justice Zacca said it was clear that the sentencing judge was concerned about domestic violence. Apparently there were quite a few cases in Cayman, he commented.

In this case, the injuries to the woman were not grave or permanent; given the guilty plea, the court would reduce the 10-year sentence to eight years, Justice Zacca said.

The court had considered whether to make the two terms consecutive, but decided not to interfere that day.

Allen Hurlstone, who had taken part in some of the robberies with Latecia Jarrett, also had his sentence reduced but for a different reason.

Hurlstone had received 12 years imprisonment, partly because he had previous convictions.

Attorney John Furniss told the Court of Appeal that the sentencing judge also considered Hurlstone’s early guilty pleas, cooperation and willingness to testify against co-accused.

When a co-accused who had left Cayman came back and went to trial in 2007, Hurlstone did give evidence for the Crown, Mr. Furniss said. He therefore deserved further credit.

Justice Zacca said the sentencing judge had already taken into account Hurlstone’s willingness to testify.

‘But we couldn’t know what would happen,’ Mr. Furniss responded.’ Many would say they were willing and then not do it – or do it and not come up to proof.’

The court agreed. Accused persons are encouraged to give evidence against co-accused, Justice Zacca said. ‘That is why there is a discount.’

The sentencing judge would have started at 16 years and given a discount for the guilty plea. Sometimes at least a one-third discount is then given for testifying. On that basis, Justice Zacca said, the court granted Hurlstone the further discount and reduced his sentence to eight years.

The court dismissed the appeal of Audwyn Smith, who received four and a half years for possession of cocaine with intent to supply and six months consecutive for failing to attend court on two occasions.

The court heard that Smith had been granted bail so that he could make use of counselling services to help him with his addiction problem. He failed to maintain sobriety and ended up missing court dates.

Justice Zacca said the sentences were not manifestly excessive. Smith had a long record and two previous convictions for failing to surrender to custody. ‘It’s quite clear the consecutive sentence was appropriate,’ he said.

The other appeal dismissed was that of Hasani Lindsay, who was sentenced in 2006 to seven years imprisonment after admitting 20 burglaries.

The sentencing judge had handed down seven years for an aggravated burglary and then made five-year sentences for 11 other burglaries to run concurrently.

The basis of the appeal was Lindsay’s accepting responsibility for the 20, which cleared them up and reassured residents that there were not a large number of burglars at large.

The burglaries occurred periodically between 2003 and 2005 when Lindsay was on visits from his native Jamaica.

The court said this was another instance in which consecutive sentences could have been considered. Lindsay had abused Cayman hospitality and there was no merit in his appeal.

Hearing the matters with the president were Justice Ian Forte and Justice Elliott Mottley.