A convicted killer who had been sentenced to death in the Cayman Islands
during the 1980s was released Friday from prison by order of Governor Duncan Taylor.
According to a statement released by Governor Taylor’s office Friday: “Under Section 31(A)(1)(c) of the Prison Law, I have the power to order the release on licence of a convicted prisoner serving a life sentence,” Mr. Taylor said. “After careful consideration, and following a recommendation from the Parole Commissioner’s Board, I have decided to exercise this power and release Mr. Blanford Dixon on licence.
“This is not a decision which I have taken lightly, but after having taken all factors into account, I believe it is the right decision,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Dixon was one of three men convicted in the death of his stepfather, Charles Evans Rankine.
Mr. Rankine was found dead on an East End beach on 20 January, 1986 by a couple going on a dive that morning.
The governor’s statement did not refer to either of the other men convicted in the crime, Owen Barrington Bruce and Lensel Vernie Dixon. Lensel and Blanford Dixon are brothers. All three men were sentenced to death, but each had those sentences commuted in 1991 when the United Kingdom abolished capital punishment in its overseas territories.
Mr. Dixon is one of several so-called “lifers” imprisoned in Her Majesty’s Prison at Northward in Grand Cayman following murder convictions. Since 1991, a murder charge in the Cayman Islands carries only one sentence: life imprisonment.
The other “lifers” include: William Stuart Powell who was charged and convicted in the June 1986 shooting deaths of Charles and Gaynell Ebanks. Powell also had his death sentence commuted after the UK abolished capital punishment.
McAndy Ford Thomas was charged and convicted in the March 1990 death of 77 year-old Ratmir Pavlovic. Mr. Pavlovic was an employee of the Gold Royale jewellery store, and was killed during a robbery at the store. Another man who police said was involved in the heist, Jerry Machado Christian, was found guilty of manslaughter and given a 14-year sentence.
In January 1994, George Roper and another inmate barricaded themselves in a cell at Northward prison. A prison employee died in the incident after officers attempted to get into the cell.
It is not known what effect, if any, the release of Blanford Dixon will have on the other “lifer” cases.
The six convicted killers mentioned above appealed to the then-Human Rights Committee in 2006, asking it to investigate their cases.
After a seven month review, HRC attorneys concluded laws, which impose life sentences for all offences of murder are contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as two other international human rights treaties.
The committee said the prisoners would be highly likely to succeed if they took their claims before the European Court of Human Rights, and that they would probably be awarded damages.