Andy James Myles was sentenced to seven years imprisonment after Justice Charles Quin found him guilty of burglary at a home in which a woman was taken from her bed and commanded to open a safe in another part of the house.
It was Myles’ fifth conviction for burglary.
The defendant, 25, denied this latest charge, maintaining he had been found in a canal near the residence because a woman he did not know gave him a lift to the area when he was trying to elude some men who had tried to beat him up earlier. He told officers he had jumped onto a boat and slipped into the water when their car drove up because he thought they were his attackers.
Justice Quin preferred the evidence of police officers who said they were on patrol in an unmarked vehicle when they heard the 911 report of a burglary around 12.45am on the night of 1 December, 2010. As they drove to the scene, they saw two men in dark clothes walking toward them with hoods over their heads and their faces covered. The officers shouted, “Stop, police!” but the men turned and ran, jumping into a canal. It was about one-quarter mile from the burglary scene.
One man apparently escaped through bush but the other allowed himself to be helped from the water. It was Myles. He denied being with anyone else and said he did not know anything about any burglary.
The victim’s evidence was that she was awakened by two men, one on either side of her bed. Their faces were completely covered by masks and one of the masks was red. They told her to get out of bed and open the safe.
She said the men led her to an office at the other end of the house, took her to the safe and told her to open it. As she tried to open it, the security alarm sounded. The men pulled the alarm control unit from the wall and ran. She said she was petrified.
Afterward, she discovered her handbag, containing money and cell phones, was missing from the bedroom closet. A jewellery box was missing from the table next to her bed. The victim said police arrived quickly and she told them about the jewellery box and a distinctive gold pendant and necklace, valued at over US$2,000. Shown a red bandana the policemen found in the office, she said she had never seen it before.
The bandana was tested and shown to contain DNA matching that of Myles. In Court, Myles admitted having several bandanas. He said his mother often gave or sold clothes to a charity, and she might have disposed of some of his items that way. DNA matching his was also found on a black head covering near the scene, but Myles said the item was not his and he had no idea how his DNA could be on it.
Myles was asked why he was out after a court-imposed curfew and he said he had met a girl who invited him to see her that night. He did not know her last name or address or phone number. She did not show up at their proposed meeting place although he waited for two or three hours. It was when he was waiting that some men attacked him. While he was avoiding them, an unknown woman gave him a ride away from that area and she dropped him near where he was found.
Justice Quin rejected this account as improbable and found the DNA evidence compelling. He commended the quick action of the police officers responding to the 911 call and he accepted one officer’s evidence that as he chased the two men he had sight of them at all times.
Considering all the evidence and the combination of circumstances, he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Myles was guilty of burglary, along with another person who was not apprehended.
Crown Counsel Kenneth Ferguson conducted the case for the prosecution.
At the sentencing hearing last week, defence attorney John Furniss said the woman was not caused any physical harm. He also indicated no weapons were used, so the burglary was not aggravated. Sentencing guidelines suggested a term of three to four years, the attorney submitted.
Justice Quin found there were several aggravating features, in that the burglary was at night while the premises were occupied. The burglary was well planned, as indicated by the clothing and masks.
“This was a cold, calculated burglary of a private dwelling in which the intruders awakened the lady of the house, in what she described as terrifying circumstances,” he said.
He cited a decision of Lord Bingham, the late Chief Justice of England and Wales, who said, “There are some professional burglars whose records show that from an early age they have behaved as predators, preying on their fellow citizens, returning to their trade almost as soon as each prison sentence has been served. Such defendants must continue to receive substantial terms of imprisonment.”
With the maximum sentence for burglary in Cayman 14 years, the judge arrived at seven years for Myles, with credit for time in custody.
Repeat burglar gets seven years