Serving prisoner Henry York Carter was sentenced last week to one more year in custody after pleading guilty to charges of threatening violence.
Defence Attorney Clyde Allen told Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale that Carter had been sentenced in Grand Court to three years imprisonment. That was after a jury found him guilty of causing the death of Glen ‘Papa Sleepy’ Seymour by driving recklessly on the night of 4 January 2007 (Caymanian Compass, 4 March 2009).
Mr. Allen suggested that sentences for threatening violence should run from the date Carter entered his guilty pleas.
But the magistrate said it would not be right to impose concurrent sentences. ‘It is proper practice to impose consecutive sentences to deter offenders from their behaviour,’ she pointed out.
Carter, now 30, told the court in a letter that he had almost lost his life when he was stabbed in a conflict outside a bar in May 2008. The incident scared him and he had changed; he had not had a drink since.
The offences of threatening violence all occurred before May 2008 and after he had been drinking.
Crown Counsel Alister Cumming said the first incident was at a mini-mart, where Carter went for cigarettes. He used insulting language in Spanish and then told the female clerk, ‘My gun is my god – I’m going to f…ing kill you.’ The clerk was afraid for her life.
The next incident occurred when Carter approached the home of someone he knew. The man was sitting outside with another person and Carter asked for a drink. He was given one and became loud. Told to be quiet or leave, Carter threatened to get a big gun and kill them all.
He left and returned with an item in his waistband. Words were exchanged and the people went inside and closed the door. Carter used the item to strike at the door, causing a slash mark. Officers later found Carter at home with a machete.
The third threat came in a dispute over money. Carter was demanding payment and left threatening messages on the debtor’s cell phone. Later he walked near the debtor’s home, picked up a concrete block and dropped it through the windscreen of the other man’s vehicle.
When arrested he admitted making the phone calls, but did not remember what he had said.
The magistrate said being drunk did not excuse offences; it aggravated them. Gun incidents are increasing in Cayman, she noted, so the hearer of a threat to kill or shoot could reasonably believe that the threatener had the means to carry it out.
She accepted without further evidence Carter’s commitment to stay sober since the stabbing incident. His behaviour warranted a total sentence of two years. But a court can discount a sentence if it is satisfied a defendant has made a successful effort to live a sober and productive life.
For threatening violence over the phone Carter received nine months. For threats to persons directly, he received one year each. All sentences were run concurrently, but consecutive to the three-year term
In addition, Carter is to pay $1100 for the door and windscreen he damaged.