10 years for abduction

Six years for blackmail to run concurrently

Facing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, Allan Sywell Kelly and Charles Felix Webster were given 10 years after being found guilty Wednesday of abduction and wrongful confinement in March 2010.

They were also convicted of blackmail for attempting to obtain US$500,000 from the mother of their victim in exchange for his release.

That sentence was six years concurrent. Lesser sentences for assault, robbery and threatening violence were also concurrent.

Wespie Wilfred Mullings Ramoon, 37, received a total of five years. His attorney, John Furniss, had urged the court to consider a discount of one-half to two-thirds for his early guilty plea and assistance.

Solicitor General Cheryll Richards, who conducted the case for the prosecution, confirmed that Mullings had fully cooperated with police from the moment he was arrested; he named the others, which allowed police to apprehend them quickly. He further assisted by giving evidence at the preliminary inquiry and during the trial of Kelly, 40, and Webster, 29.

They admitted taking part in the abduction/confinement, but offered a defence of duress – that they acted out of fear for their lives and for the safety of their families. Justice Karl Harrison rejected that defence and found that Mullings had never threatened or pulled a gun on either of them. He concluded they had acted for financial gain.

A fourth accused, Richard Hurlstone, absconded in December. He was said by the Crown to be the mastermind of the plan to abduct his brother-in-law.

In handing down sentences, Justice Harrison said the penalties had to be very heavy. These offences are foreign to Cayman, he noted; they could not be allowed to spread and cause anxiety.

In the case before him, the trauma experienced by the victim would take a long time to erase, he observed. He had no doubt that the victim’s parents must have endured the most agonising anxiety.

He agreed with Defence Attorneys Clyde Allen and Ben Tonner that the mastermind of the abduction/ransom plan should receive the highest sentence.

He said he would have started at 15 years for the mastermind, with other participants receiving less according to their roles in the enterprise.

In announcing his verdicts earlier in the day, Justice Harrison summarised his findings of fact from the evidence he heard during a three-week trial that started on 24 February.

He said Hurlstone spoke to Mullings about starting a new business of “kidnapping” in Cayman. The first victim would be his brother-in-law, Talbert Tyson Tatum, 23.(Kidnapping means taking any person beyond the limits of the Cayman Islands without his consent or taking a young person out of the keeping of a lawful guardian without the guardian’s consent. Abduction is compelling a person to go from any place by force, or inducing him to go by some deceitful means.)

Justice Harrison said Hurlstone convinced Mullings his plan could work and meetings were held that were attended by other people, including Kelly and Webster, both of whom attended voluntarily. Each man was promised $25,000.

On Thursday, 18 March, Webster induced Tyson to go to a home in North Side on the pretext that there were wave runners needing repair.

When Tyson got to the home, where Mullings and Kelly were waiting, he was grabbed, kicked, choked, punched and finally subdued. His hands and feet were tied and his eyes covered. Force was used to remove his Rolex watch, gold bracelet and earrings.

Webster drove Tyson’s truck to another part of the Island and Tyson’s phone was handed over to Hurlstone, who delivered it to Tyson’s mother.

Phone calls were made to her and Tyson was instructed to tell her the ransom was US$500,000 and she should not contact the police or he would be killed. Tyson also received threats to the effect that he would be killed if his mother did not pay or cooperate.

His mother did involve the police, who recorded subsequent phone calls. Mullings and Webster became suspicious that police were tracking the calls, so they left the house, Kelly having left on Thursday after the assault and first phone call. Left alone, Tyson was able to bite through the duct tape binding his hands, then free his feet and escape Friday evening, 19 March.

On Tuesday, 23 March, Webster was arrested while trying to leave the Island. Tyson’s watch, bracelet and earring were in his suitcase. Kelly was arrested on 29 March. They have been in custody since.

Time in custody for all three men will count toward their sentence.

Justice Harrison said the trauma experienced by their victim would take a long time to erase.