Life in prison for knife-wielding rapist

Jeffrey Barnes to appeal, attorney confirms

Rapist Jeffrey Alexander Barnes, 33, was sentenced Monday to life imprisonment for two counts of rape, and aggravated burglary with intent to rape. 

The sentence followed a guilty verdict delivered by a jury in April for offenses that occurred on Oct. 20, 2011, in which he raped a woman in her home at knife point.  

He had been also sentenced in May to 15 years’ imprisonment for another rape, as well as abduction and attempted rape, that happened on Oct. 29, 2011. A reporting ban issued by the court prevented reporting of details of those court cases at the time. 

After sentencing on Monday, Barnes told Justice Charles Quin that he generally accepted responsibility for his acts, “but I promise you, I did not commit this offense,” referring to the Oct. 20 incident. 

When the judge reminded him that the jury’s verdict had been unanimous, Barnes replied that the media had “scandaled” him from the beginning.  

Sentencing had been adjourned after the trial so that a social inquiry report and psychological assessment could be obtained. In passing sentence, Justice Quin took into account aggravating features that included the break-in and attack on a woman in what should have been the safety of her own home, and the use of a weapon. 

He referred to the victim impact statement in which the woman spoke of her fear, continuing nightmares and trouble trusting people. At trial, she had been ashamed to say out loud what he had done to her. “I came to the Cayman Islands to make my life better, and in coming here my life has been ruined,” she said.  

Justice Quin thanked the woman “who, despite the physical and mental humiliation, reported the crime to police and then, after that, was courageous enough to return to a place that held frightening memories for her, enter the witness box and give her sworn evidence before a jury, to ensure that justice would be done.” 

The judge referred to reports submitted about Barnes which showed that in 2008 he commenced, but did not complete, a sex offenders’ treatment program and a time-to-change program. 

Barnes was assessed as being at a very high risk of recidivism in relation to general criminal offenses. In a psychological evaluation, he illustrated “a tendency to be impulsive, impatient, irritable, hostile and aggressive, with a very low frustration level. The defendant views himself as an outcast who avoids his family and who ‘got a raw deal from life.’” 

Justice Quin ordered Barnes to enroll in the sex offenders’ treatment program and the anger management program at Northward prison. 


Previous convictions 

In May, Justice Alexander Henderson sentenced Barnes to 15 years’ imprisonment for the Oct. 29, 2011, abduction, rape and attempted rape. In that incident, the victim said she encountered Barnes along the road when he got out of his car, produced what appeared to be a firearm and compelled her to enter his vehicle. He drove to a secluded area, where the rape and attempted rape occurred. He then drove off and left her to walk back to the main road. 

Justice Henderson pointed out that DNA had identified Barnes. He indicated that 20 years was the appropriate sentence and then applied a 25 percent discount for the guilty plea.  

Both Justice Henderson and Justice Quin referred to Barnes’s rape conviction in 2001, when he received a 10-year sentence, and a conviction for indecent assault in 2010, when he was sentenced to 18 months.  

The local tariff for a rape conviction is 10 to 12 years for a first offense on a not guilty plea. Recent local cases have drawn sentences in the 12- to 16-year range because of aggravating features. The maximum sentence for rape is life imprisonment.  

In the legal sequence, Justice Quin on Monday was sentencing Barnes for his second rape conviction, the first being in 2001. The judge noted that Cayman’s Penal Code provides that a court may, in its discretion, sentence a person to life upon a second conviction for a category A offense [the most serious]. 


Break-in and rape 

The court heard that on Oct. 20, 2011, Barnes, armed with a knife, entered the victim’s residence as a trespasser with intent to rape her. 

The victim had left her upstairs window open, but it was screened. Around 3 a.m., she felt as if she could not breathe properly and awoke to find a man on top of her. He had one hand on her throat and a knife against her windpipe. 

She began to fight, but her attacker squeezed her throat tighter and told her to stop fighting. He cut her clothes off with the knife. After he raped her, he asked her questions about herself and then told her to turn over. She said she couldn’t because her stomach was hurting, but he said he didn’t care. 

As she turned over, she realized she had her phone in bed, but when she tried to hide the phone, he saw it and held the knife to her, saying he would cut her if she tried anything stupid. He then raped her again. 

Sometime before 6 a.m., she told him she had to go to work. He told her to act normal and not tell anyone, saying he would be waiting for her when she returned. She agreed to come back because she was still afraid he would kill her; he had told her he had a gun and it made no sense for her to report the incident “because Cayman police don’t solve crimes.” 

By the light in the apartment at that time, she was able to see a tattoo marked “GANGSTA” on his chest and a black mark on his right leg. She also noted his general appearance. 

She phoned a friend in Jamaica and told him what had happened and also told her boss’s husband, who saw the cut on her neck and contacted a police officer, who advised them to formally report the matter to police. 

The woman was in fear and did not want to report it. She stayed overnight in her boss’s house and left the next morning for Jamaica. She remained in contact with her boss and eventually decided to report the matter. 

Police went to the apartment on Nov. 2, 2011, and recovered items for testing. Semen was found on one of the pillows, and the DNA matched Barnes’s DNA. 

Barnes was interviewed on Nov. 11, 2011. Photos were taken of him and they showed a tattoo across his stomach that said “GANGSTA” and a black mark on his right leg. 

Defense attorney John Furniss confirmed on Tuesday that Barnes has given instructions to appeal.