Imposing sentence of two years, judge cites ‘very high provocation’
A husband who believed his wife had been raped was sentenced recently to two years imprisonment for wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm to the man he thought had raped her.
The husband had pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, but guilty to the wounding charge.
When accusations of rape are made, the Caymanian Compass does not report details of the case that would lead to the identity of the victim.
Justice Alexander Henderson heard the circumstances of the offence from Crown counsel Candia James. Defence attorney Fiona Robertson spoke in mitigation and the judge adjourned until the next day.
When the matter resumed, Justice Henderson summarised the material that had been presented to him. He said the defendant was enjoying an ostensibly happy relationship with his wife. On the day of the incident, she told him she had been raped by an acquaintance two days previously. It was not clear from the evidence if she had or had not been raped.
The judge said he approached the matter on the basis that the husband held a sincere belief that what his wife told him was true.
“The defendant was, of course, dismayed and angered by what he had been told,” the judge commented. “He became irrational.”
Shortly after being told, the husband had a conversation on his wife’s phone with the other man. An arrangement was made for the man to come to the house. Justice Henderson said the man no doubt thought he was going to enjoy a visit with the defendant’s wife.
Instead, when the man arrived, the defendant stabbed him once in the chest. The knife penetrated as far as the man’s heart, but lacerated the heart only to a slight degree.
The defendant was apparently filled with immediate remorse and called 911 for an ambulance. The wounding victim spent 10 days in the hospital.
For the most part, the husband cooperated with police and made repeated inquiries about the condition of his victim. When interviewed, he was shaking and in such a distressed state that emergency services were called to the scene to take a look at him, the judge noted.
In passing sentence, he said he was taking into account the defendant’s guilty plea, previous good character, genuine remorse and the fact that this was an isolated incident with a single stab wound, not a repeated attack.
“Finally, I am satisfied that there was a very high degree of provocation in this case. The defendant did have some time to allow his passion to cool before he stabbed the victim; it was not an act that occurred immediately after the revelation of the rape.
“However, the time period was short enough that I am sure the offender was acting in a largely irrational manner and impulsively,” Justice Henderson concluded.
In these unusual circumstances, he considered this an appropriate case to depart from UK guidelines cited to him, which set a sentencing range of five to nine years.
In his view the appropriate starting point was three years, with a deduction of one year for the guilty plea. Since the defendant is not Caymanian, the judge said he would leave the question of deportation to the Immigration Board.