A sweeping proposal seeking to double sentences upon criminal conviction for various offenses committed in “residential, tourism and financial services” sectors of the Cayman Islands will be discussed in Legislative Assembly next week.
The motion from George Town MLA Winston Connolly seeks “enhanced penalties” for crimes committed in those sectors, without specifically defining them.
“There has been a significant increase in crime including robberies and burglaries, armed and otherwise, occurring in residential tourism and financial services sectors of the Cayman Islands which have a potentially devastating effect on the residents of our districts … the central pillars of our economy and the external reputation of the Cayman Islands,” the motion stated.
While stating that the motion “is not intended to fetter the court’s discretion in sentencing,” Mr. Connolly indicated that he and his independent backbench colleague Roy McTaggart wanted to highlight sentencing in criminal cases.
“I wanted to highlight that, if you’re doing these things in tourism and financial areas … those are the lifeblood of the Cayman economy. It’s affecting all of us.
“I don’t think [these sentences] are enough of a deterrent. I’d love to say for a judge to give 10 years, for everything that’s five years now and then they can decide how much the [10-year sentence] can be reduced.“
According to police statistics, Cayman has not suffered an unusually high number of robberies or burglaries in 2014. However, the nature of some of the robberies, in particular, have caused concern amongst lawmakers.
A Nov. 10 hold-up at Paradise Restaurant was the latest in a string of recent robberies that have plagued high-profile tourist locations in George Town.
Two of three robberies that occurred at tourist hot spots in mid-October involved popular restaurants, one on the George Town waterfront, another along the southern end of Seven Mile Beach. Coconut Joe’s, located across the street from the Comfort Suites and Marriott Beach Resort, is one of the longest-serving eateries in the area.
Eight customers and four staff members were held up by two gunmen during the Coconut Joe’s robbery at 11;38 p.m. on Oct. 16. Two men with shirts covering their heads and carrying “dark hand guns” entered through the rear of the business on West Bay Road. The men went through the kitchen and appeared out front demanding cash from the employee working the register. Police said the suspects then threatened customers with the weapons.
On Oct. 12, a man walking along the street on West Bay Road was held up by a machete-wielding man near Andy’s rent-a-car. That robbery also happened just before midnight. The Andy’s location is within walking distance of the Seven Mile Shops, where Tuesday morning’s handbag robbery occurred.
The next night, Oct. 13, Da Fish Shack restaurant on North Church Street was robbed by armed men. A customer was also robbed in that incident, which occurred at 10:56 p.m.