Estella’s killer appeals

    Estella Scott Roberts Cayman 300x250

    An attorney plans to appeal Larry Ricketts’ conviction for the October 2008 murder of Estella Scott Roberts 

    Nicola Moore said she has briefed counsel in London regarding a request to the Privy Council for leave to appeal Ricketts’ conviction. If that fails, she said she will seek a review of his sentence of life in prison at the governor’s discretion to the European Court of Human Rights in the Hague. 

    Ms Moore, of Priestleys Attorneys at Law, said the mandatory sentence of imprisonment for life in a murder conviction in the Cayman Islands “is cruel and unusual punishment.” 

    “To have people in prison for the rest of their natural life at the governor’s discretion contravenes articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, which extends to the Cayman Islands by virtue of its relationship with the United Kingdom,” she said. 

    Chief Justice Anthony Smellie found Kirkland Henry and Larry Prinston Ricketts both guilty of murdering Estella Scott Roberts on the night of 10 October, 2008, following their trial in February 2010. 

    On the night of 10 October, 2008, Mrs. Roberts was celebrating her 33rd birthday with female friends at Decker’s Restaurant, having already celebrated with her husband two nights before. She was last seen walking toward the rear of a car park furthest away from West Bay Road. She was driven to an isolated area of West Bay where she was raped, robbed, killed and had her body incinerated in her car. 

    Henry had already pleaded guilty to rape in relation to the incident. Ricketts has never been tried for rape. 

    At the time of the verdicts, the Chief Justice had already pronounced the sentence mandated by law – that the men be imprisoned for life. 

    Ms Moore said she interprets the sentence to be in violation of Article Three of the human rights document, which states that “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” She said no prospect of or possibility of parole fits the description of inhuman. 

    She said Article Five stipulates there needs to be a judicial process when considering a person’s freedom. She said the governor’s discretion contravenes this principal.  

    Henry has also applied to the Privy Council for leave to appeal his conviction, though he is not being assisted by Ms Moore in that regard. The two men’s requests may be heard together; however, in which case Ms Moore will have to wait to see if their convictions stand before she makes any effort to get more specific sentences for them. This would simultaneously affect others who may be serving the rest of their lives in prison and possibly change the law in Grand Cayman. 

    “In addition to Ricketts, I am about to meet with two other men who have been in prison for 26 years. The Human Rights Commission has been looking into tariffs for years. It is not the law’s intention to take an eye for an eye and prison is not only about punishment but rehabilitation,” she noted, adding that in England people rarely get more than 20 years in prison for murder. 

    In the event that the men’s attempts for an appeal fail, the attorney will argue the case for new sentencing guidelines for them to the European Court of Human Rights in the Hague. The cost to do so is 800 Euro each. 

    Speaking about her client in particular, she said initially, no one would represent Ricketts. 

    “Partners were telling their attorneys that to represent such a client would mean the loss of commercial business. But at Priestleys, the view was taken that everyone is entitled to representation and we decided to give it a try.” 

    A case several years ago in which six men serving life sentences sought assistance regarding their sentences to the Cayman Islands Human Rights Committee was agreed with by the committee at that time. Though apparently, no further action has been taken on their behalf. 

    “At all relevant times (and currently) the sentence for murder in Cayman has been prescribed by law, with the result that there is no judicial discretion in sentencing,” read the report by the Cayman Islands Human Rights Commission, which essentially said that there needs to be varying sentences in varying circumstances of murder. 

    The document outlined the following: 

    1) The mandatory life sentence for murder is founded on the assumption that murder is a crime of such unique heinousness that the offender forfeits for the rest of his existence his right to be set free. 

    (2) That assumption is a fallacy. It arises from the divergence between the legal definition of murder and that which the lay public believes to be murder. 

    (3) The common-law definition of murder embraces a wide range of offences, some of which are truly heinous, some of which are not. 

    (4) The majority of murder cases, though not those which receive the most publicity, fall into the latter category. 

    (5) It is logically and jurisprudentially wrong to require judges to sentence all categories of murderer in the same way, regardless of the particular circumstances of the case before them. 

    Since 4 November, 1950, when the Convention was signed, its various articles have been interpreted and developed in various judgements by the Court. In a number of high-profile rulings the European Court has found that any mandatory sentence will be unlawful, violating Articles 3 and 5, if it is arbitrary and disproportionate to the gravity of the crime. The Privy Council in various cases and the final appellate domestic courts of the UK and Jamaica, all considering identically worded provisions of domestic laws, have delivered similar judgements. 

    It is unclear what an appropriate sentence for Ricketts would be under the European Court’s guidelines. The death penalty is also not an option. 

    Estella Scott Roberts Cayman

    Estella Scott-Roberts
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    20 COMMENTS

    1. As a citizen I object to paying for their appeal. They should not be granted any legal aid for any appeal. They are milking the system unnecessarily because they won’t be given any reduction in sentence, nor will they be able to be sued in a civil suit by her family for murder etc. So this is where the Governor or Attorney General to intercede and block this appeal. Estella’s memory should be a less painful and respected.

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    2. If there was the possibility of a death penalty for this horrendous murder…

      No one deserves it more than these two.

      If this had been the states of Texas or Florida, Ricketts and Henry would be on death row right now.

      I agree, that with the Bill of Rights coming into effect, the sentence of life imprisonment, at the descretion of the Governor is antiquated and needs revision…

      However, time limit sentences can and are being handed down for deserving cases where the the convicted prisoner will spend the rest of their natural life in prison.

      The cases of the Caymanians on life sentences who have been locked up for more than 20 years now is much more deserving of review than these two dispicable Jamaican nationals.

      Back in the day, in Jamaica, the hangman would have had work to do, once they had been convicted in a Jamaican court of law.

      The Cayman Islands is really becoming a ‘soft touch’ in every way, for some types of people.

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    3. This was a wicked act that was unexcusable. These guys should have been put to death then and there – at the same moment they were found guilty! Thats the problem with our judiciary system… too much processing and no immediate judgement!

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    4. mandatory sentence of imprisonment for life in a murder conviction in the Cayman Islands is cruel and unusual punishment.

      Is this a joke?

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    5. errrr…everyone is allowed to appeal. It’s their right. What if the jury got it wrong? And they were not the ones who did this crime? There are many people who have been falsely convicted.

      It’s cool to see how everyone can just throw away the book. Without thinking rationally.

      Let them have their appeal. They only get one. If they go to trial and lose again. It’s the finality on this case which will never be heard again. Let that echo in their minds for the rest of their lives, that they were proven guilty twice, if they are found guilty again. While they think about what they did in prison.

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    6. It has been three years since the savage murder of Estella Scott-Brown. Caymanians still mourn her untimely and brutal death at the hands of two men who have been found guilty of their heinous crime. That these criminals have been sentenced to life imprisonment (hopefully with no right of parole) is far too kind a sentence. The death penalty is not too draconian to bring justice to the murderers of Estella. Didn’t the Bibile suggest an eye for an eye?

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    7. This is an example of the danger of the Work Permit Board and McKeeva Bush open door policy, 10 year work permit and removal of the rollover Policy importing more of these killer type criminals into the country is a danger to Cayman’s society. We’re not only fighting for jobs, we’re fighting for our lives as well.

      NO APPEAL FOR THESE VARMINTS, IT MUST BE BLOCKED
      No legal aide either.

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    8. Ms Moore said she interprets the sentence to be in violation of Article Three of the human rights document, which states that No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment She said no prospect of or possibility of parole fits the description of inhuman.

      You know what’s inhuman: Estella’s rape and murder at the hands of these men. What about her human rights?? They never thought about her!

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    9. I concur with Inahjoke. As for big berd’s concern for ‘justice’ and allowing an appeal, I would be in agreement if Ricketts and Henry were required and given the opportunity to first work behind bars in order earn the proceeds they are about to spend on legal fees.

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    10. What the readers/commentors on the forum need to understand is that this case is being used to test the new human rights laws that will be fully implemented shortly.

      IMO, it is a bad case to use as it carries the potential to further harden local sentiments against the implementation of a Bill of Rights, which has never been a popular introduction within local circles.

      The emotional aspect of Estella’s standing in the community and the brutal, animalistic way in which she was kidnapped, raped and murdered for no apparent reason other than to satisfy the lust of her murderers will forever cut to the core of Caymanians.

      I trust in the integrity of the European Court of Human Rights judges that they will not use this case to change Cayman’s current law and let THIS life sentence stand.

      There will be other cases in which their review of Cayman’s current laws will carry much more merit and public support, than this one.

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    11. Is this a joke? I think they should be given a choice. Life in prison or die in the same manner that she did.

      I know by law they are entitled to an appeal but I cannot believe they’re actually doing it. What they did to this poor woman deserves the death penatly.

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    12. It seems terribly sad that increasingly we worry about the human rights of convicted criminals. What about the victims. These two individuals horrifically ended a young life which was full of promise. Life sentence should mean life sentence. Not just 10 or 20 years. Is that how much we value human life? As soon as you commit a horrendous crime, as far as I’m concerned, you forfeit your human rights to be treated with respect and dignity. What about Estella’s human right to live, grow old, have a family, watch them grow up etc. They took that away from her in a despicable manner, so now they should pay the same price.

      This is simply political correctness gone mad. World over, criminals have no respect for law or prison. we need to start showing kids that you commit a crime, well you pay the price and that doesn’t mean watching TV all day and three nice meals a day etc. That’s a holiday camp not prison. Start making them work, earn their keep so they are not a burden on society.

      I personally dont know Estella’s family or friends, but my heart goes out to them during this time.

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    13. I hate to tell you, but this isn’t about the murders or Estella. There is no doubt that these two should spend every day in jail for the rest of their lives.

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    14. Hopefully someone in the Attorney General’s department is thinking strategically about this. The current rules may force the public purse to fund the application to the Privy Council but there is no rule that says that legal aid has to pay for an appeal to the ECHR. We also need to review all sentencing guidelines to ensure that we can impose the types of sentences that the public demands while staying in compliance with the new Constitution and the ECHR. This is definitely a situation where a few dollars of prevention will save millions in cure later.

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    15. With the tone of the comments (and voting) in response to this article these two should reconsider their appeal.
      They’ll be far safer in prison than walking the streets of Grand.

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    16. Keep in mind that these 2 guys who raped, murdered and burned the victim will be living in our neighbourhood in 20 years if the Lawyers have their way.
      If the Lawyers will accept the offenders to live with them in 20 years then it might be worth a look. They seem to think its ok for these guys to live with the offended so I am assuming they are wiling to take the same risk.

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    17. How about my rights of a citizen who has to feed and support these two monsters for the rest of their lives. They are fortunate that they are in a country where the gallows is not available. Why dont we send them to their native country where the facilities are more suitable. Again I wonder if that sympathetic lawyer would feel the same way if the victim was a close relative.

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