Eleven years for manslaughter

Paul Ricardo Gordon 40, who has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Radio DJ Sherman ‘Jazzy B’ Bodden 42, was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Monday, 28 September.

In sentencing the defendant, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie said the starting point for such an offence was 15 years.

However, he added that Gordon’s remorse and previous good character were mitigating factors and cited the testimony of witnesses who said Gordon was honest, hard working and diligent.

Justice Smellie said he rejected the claim made by the defendant’s attorney that provocation was excessive, adding that Marsha Smith stated that Gordon had exhibited violence before and this indicated a short temper.

The Chief Justice said, ‘A less volatile personality would likely not have stabbed as many times (six).’ He added that there was no restraint once the knife was drawn.

During proceedings leading up to sentencing, the court heard from the Crown Counsel Cheryll Richards that Gordon, a former lance corporal in the Jamaican Defence Force, was working with the Security Centre during his time in Grand Cayman; some four-five years.

She said he met Marsha Smith while on duty at the First Caribbean Bank and they started a relationship which ultimately led to them living together.

However, Gordon moved out of the residence the two shared in 2009 and continued to go to and from the home to retrieve belongings.

In early 2009 Ms Smith met Mr. Bodden and began spending time with him.

According to witness statements, this caused Gordon a certain amount of concern and he made efforts to be at places he knew Ms Smith would frequent, in addition to professing his love for her and intention to mend the relationship.

After seeing Ms Smith and Bodden on at least two occasions, Gordon is said to have asked her if she ‘had something going on’ with Jazzy B, to which she said no.

On the day of the incident Miss Smith returned home to find the defendant watering her plants, after which he left and returned later that night to retrieve a phone charger.

It is at that time that Mr. Bodden is said to have called Ms Smith. She asked him where he was and started walking toward the front door of her house.

Sherman Bodden then entered the house with a box of food in his hand and a discussion about the appropriateness of him being in the residence ensued between the men, after which a fist fight started. None of the witnesses in the home saw who threw the first blow.

During the fight Bodden was stabbed six times, five in the front of the torso and once in the back.

One of the wounds received was said to have been potentially fatal in a matter of minutes, while some of the others were described as possibly fatal over time.

Paramedics found Bodden unresponsive at the scene.

Court records indicate that the defendant said, ‘You see what you made me do. You see what love do.’

When police arrived, Gordon told them, ‘I stabbed him. He’s dead.’

At the station, Gordon said he wished to have an interview with police and said that he could not sleep until he had told what happened.

Upon being told the death of Mr. Bodden had been confirmed, it is said that Gordon wept uncontrollably.

Mrs. Richards reminded the court that the maximum penalty for manslaughter was life in prison and reminded the court that provocation should be negated as a mitigating factor when the response was as excessive with respect to the provoking incident/s.

Defence Attorney Howard Hamilton QC told the court that he had taken the time to learn about the deceased and realised what a treasure Mr. Bodden was to the Cayman Islands. He spoke with the highest regard of the laughter that Jazzy B brought to his listeners and expressed condolences to his family.

Mr. Hamilton said in his 30 years of coming to Cayman for court proceedings, this was the most tragic case he had seen, ‘It could and should have been avoided,’ he lamented.

He said, however, that he wanted to dispel any notion by the public that the plea of manslaughter should have not been accepted.

His reasons for this position were that the defendant called 911 and police and never ran away, in addition to the fact that he still had his personal items at the residence and possessed a key.

‘He could come and go, as he pleased,’ said Hamilton, who asserted that the relationship between Gordon and Smith was not really over. He said they separated on 7 March when she told Gordon she needed space.

He then left her abode with one sheet and a pillow case and was living out of one room. Mr. Hamilton said Gordon was simply giving her space and most if not all of his personal items were still at Miss Smith’s home.

He contended that Miss Smith was actually deceiving both the deceased and Gordon, because when Jazzy B came to her house that night, he asked who was there upon seeing the defendant’s vehicle. Mr. Hamilton said he believed this was evidence that Miss Smith was not being truthful with the deceased about the state of her relationship with Gordon.

He showed the court phone records that illustrated Miss Smith texting Gordon over 30 times and calling him extensively in the days leading up to the incident.

He said the knife used in the attack was a ratchet that his client carried with him to work every day and it was like his ‘bill fold,’ which he never left, especially with the violence that had beset one of his colleagues, who was chopped with a machete.

It was suggested by Mr. Hamilton that once Ms Smith opened the door to her home and let Mr. Bodden in, she then left the room where the two men were, which is why she did not see who threw the first blow.

He said Gordon was not carrying the knife waiting for Bodden but rather was ‘in his home’ with the knife in his possession.

Paul Gordon also addressed the court and apologised to the family and friends of Jazzy B, as well as Miss Smith, her children and the people of the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.

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