A 22-year-old man who shot and killed a love rival as he sat in a parked car in George Town was imprisoned for life on Saturday.
Tareek Ricketts showed no emotion as a jury delivered a unanimous verdict, finding him guilty of the murder of Jackson Rainford on 16 December, 2012.
A father-of-two, Mr. Rainford, 23, was shot in the head and chest as he sat in the passenger seat of a vehicle, parked outside a home on Shedden Road.
Friends and family of Mr. Rainford wept as the verdict was delivered, just after 5.30pm.
His mother Faithia Pars, who sat through the two-week trial but was not in court on Saturday, told the Caymanian Compass she was happy justice had been served.
“Now I can tell his sons that justice has been done. My son was a hard working man, who loved his children. Nothing can bring him back, but at least now he can rest in peace,” she said.
The victim’s brother, Che Rainford, who was in the driver’s seat at the time of the murder, identified Ricketts as the shooter.
Crown prosecutors argued that he was driven by anger and jealousy to kill Rainford, who was in a relationship with Ricketts’ former partner, the mother of his two children.
Ricketts, who gave evidence in his own defence, denied the murder, claiming his car had broken down near the Mango Tree bar at the time of the shooting.
It took the four-man, eight-woman jury a little more than eight hours to find him guilty. Grand Court Judge Alex Henderson sentenced him to life in prison, the only sentence available under Cayman Islands law in murder cases.
Justice Henderson rejected a move from attorney Prathna Bodden to postpone sentencing to allow the defence team to prepare submissions based on the Bill of Rights, which came into force in November last year. The Bill of Rights guarantees certain human rights protections to Cayman Islands residents that could have implications for the territory’s policy of sentencing all convicted killers to whole-life prison terms.
Ricketts was also sentenced to 10 years in prison, to run concurrently, for possession of an unlicensed firearm.
His victim, Mr. Rainford, had two sons, ages 3 and 2.
Delmy Smith, the mother of his oldest son, was in court to hear the verdict on Saturday. She said the two-week trial had been a stressful time for the whole family,
“I am happy to know he got life because my baby’s father got killed and he didn’t deserve that,” she said. “Tareek has to sit down now and think about what he did. His (Jackson’s) children are going to grow up without a father because of him.”
Several witnesses were called during the trial, which began on 5 August.
The testimony of Che Rainford was crucial. He described the gunman to a police officer minutes after the shooting.
He said he did not know his name, but the man was in a relationship with Jackson’s wife and drove an SUV with bright, shiny rims.
Defence counsel John Ryder had argued that he was sincere but mistaken.
Another person at the scene was the woman whom the Rainford brothers had given a ride home, Terina Tomlinson.
She had been in a relationship with Tareek Ricketts, but that had ended earlier in 2012 although they maintained contact because they had two children together. Ms Tomlinson had recently begun seeing Jackson Rainford.
In his summing up to the jury, Justice Henderson said it was his opinion that her evidence was so clearly and fundamentally contradictory on the question of who, if anyone, she saw approaching the car that it was of no value and it would be unreasonable to put any weight on her evidence of identification.
The other crown witness at the scene was Dale Vernon. Giving his evidence via video link, he said he was in the churchyard next door to Ms Tomlinson’s residence with Mr. Ricketts and another man before Ms Tomlinson returned home.
He was helping to take her children to her door when he heard popping sounds and then realised they were gunshots.
His evidence put the defendant at the scene.
Mr. Ricketts, however, denied seeing Mr. Vernon that night. Taking the witness stand, he told the court he had waited alone for Ms Tomlinson and the children to return home. When they did not come, he left but his car broke down in the vicinity of Mango Tree, near where Shedden Road joins Crewe Road.