A gunman who shot two men in a nightclub parking lot has been jailed for 13 years.
Justice Marva McDonald-Bishop sentenced Leighton Griffin Rankine Jr., on Friday for shooting the two victims – who were struck by the same bullet – in the Club 7 nightclub car park in February 2012.
In passing sentence, Justice McDonald-Bishop said she was taking into account the physical, psychological, emotional and financial impact on Rankine’s victims.
One of the men who was shot, Mitchell Anthony Wright, said he had to have surgery on his right arm and it had not regained its full strength. “I am an athlete and no longer have the strength I once had,” he reported.
Mr. Mitchell’s victim impact statement referred also to financial problems. He said the hospital had required him to make a $500 deposit prior to his surgery. “Since that time, my insurance company has refused to pay for my surgery because of the incident being a shooting,” he said.
The other victim was Jolyon Frederick.
Evidence presented during trial in June revealed that Rankine had fired one bullet, which entered and exited Mr. Frederick’s left arm before lodging in Mr. Wright’s right forearm.
Rankine, 36, chose to be tried by judge alone and Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards presented the case for the crown. On June 11, the visiting judge found him not guilty of attempting to murder the two men. He was found guilty of wounding the men with intent to cause serious bodily harm, possession of an unlicensed .38 Smith & Wesson handgun, discharging the firearm at them and assaulting a third man.
Sentencing was to have taken place two days later, but Justice McDonald-Bishop was then advised that Rankine wanted the court to have the benefit of a social inquiry report. It was not convenient for Justice McDonald-Bishop to return to Cayman until last week.
In passing sentence, she noted that all offences took place in the car park of Club 7 on Feb. 22, 2012, sometime after 3 a.m., after the club had closed.
The court heard that Mr. Frederick and his cousin, Jordan McLean, were outside talking. Rankine walked toward Mr. McLean and asked him what the problem was. Mr. McLean said words to the effect, “Nothing – stop acting weird.”
Rankine asked if Mr. McLean was calling him a “retard” and said he was going to show him something.
As Rankine walked toward his car, Mr. Frederick followed because he knew him and was trying to calm him down, the court heard. Mr. Wright, who had been walking to his car, came over to try to help. Rankine got the gun from his car and, as the men came closer, he fired one round, hitting both men.
Fearing that Rankine would fire again, Mr. Wright ran toward him and fought to try to take the gun away.
Meanwhile, police officers at a nearby premises heard the gunshot and ran to the scene. When they shouted at Rankine to put the gun down, he threw it in the bush. He and Mr. Wright continued fighting. That ended after Mr. Wright kicked the defendant in the face three times.
When the gun was found, it had one spent round and four live bullets in it.
Rankine said during the trial that he had no recollection of the incident. He remembered dancing with someone at Buttonwood Club and the next thing he knew he was in the hospital with tubes in his mouth. He acknowledged drinking and smoking ganja before going out that night. He denied having a gun or having access to one.
Defense attorney Clyde Allen said Rankine had facial fractures as a result of the fight for which he had to receive fairly serious and ongoing treatment.
He asked the court to consider that Rankine had lost his memory of the incident. If Rankine had recalled what took place, and if on the facts in evidence he saw that he was at fault, he would have entered a guilty verdict from the beginning, Mr. Allen explained.
Because Rankine could not recall what had taken place, he was of the view that the evidence should be tested. If he did what the court found him guilty of, then he apologized to the court and to the victims.
Mr. Allen also pointed out that there were video cameras around the parking lot, “but sadly the police did not go back to recover them in time, so they were wiped clean. Such recovery may have saved us all an incredible amount of time,” he noted.
In his social inquiry report, Rankine admitted that when he drank, he did not remember anything he said.
The judge told Rankine his injuries were the result of his own doing. Evidence indicated he was unconscious and required urgent attention at the hospital, “so I take into account that you have at least been punished in some way for your action.”
All sentences were concurrent: 13 years for the unlicensed firearm; seven years for wounding Mr. Wright; five years for wounding Mr. Frederick; three years for discharging the gun at the men; and 10 months for assaulting Mr. McLean.