Justice Ingrid Mangatal handed down sentences on Wednesday afternoon for the four men found guilty after retrial for the June 2012 robbery of Cayman National Bank.
David Tamasa, Andre Burton and George Mignott received the same sentence as they had received from Justice Alexander Henderson after their first trial – 14 years each for Tamasa and Burton, 12 years for Mignott.
Only Rennie Cole received a lesser sentence – eight years instead of nine for the robbery and four years concurrent for possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offense. The jury last month accepted that his role was to distract the guard before the robbers entered the bank branch at Buckingham Square.
Justice Mangatal noted that Justice Henderson, in passing sentence on the robbers in the original trial, had used a starting point of 12 years before considering aggravating and mitigating factors. Defense attorneys had urged her to use a starting point of eight years, on the basis that the firearms were charged as imitation (because they were never found and so could not be proved to be real) and the robbery was not sophisticated.
The judge expressed the view that eight years was wholly inappropriate and 12 years was appropriate. Deterrence must be a significant factor, she declared. The impact on Cayman as a small community was far greater than a similar crime would be in the U.K. The vast majority of the $502,436 stolen was never recovered.
Tamasa, 35, had originally received 14 years as a global sentence because he had been convicted of the Weststar Television Centre robbery in May 2012. His attorney argued that, because that conviction was overturned, Tamasa was a man of previous good character.
Justice Mangatal said Tamasa played a key role as organizer, planner and provider of firearms. She said she would probably have arrived at a sentence higher than the judge in the first trial, but it was not fair to impose a sentence higher than was passed the first time.
She quoted U.K. legal precedents to the effect that a defendant should not be discouraged from appealing a conviction by having the threat of a higher sentence hanging over him. The principle of a fair trial includes sentencing, she pointed out.
With a starting point of 12 years, the aggravating factors raised Tamasa’s sentence to 14 years, with seven years concurrent for the firearm.
Burton, 31, had a lesser role as driver, but he had previous convictions, including the Weststar robbery. The sentences could be consecutive, but in view of the principle of totality, she imposed the same 14 years and five years concurrent.
Mignott, 25, had played a substantial role by carrying a shotgun into the bank to intimidate customers and staff. His sentences remained at 12 years and seven years concurrent.
Ryan Edwards, the fifth man in the CNB robbery, received a sentence of 13 years from Justice Henderson, who took into account his conviction for the Weststar robbery. Edwards did not win his appeal and was not part of the retrial. Both Edwards and Cole were recommended for deportation after completing their sentences; both are Jamaican nationals.
The retrial was ordered because the Court of Appeal found a “material irregularity” – an error concerning the defendants’ right to remain silent and how a jury should be instructed on that point.
None of the defendants gave evidence in their first trial nor in the retrial.
Justice Mangatal also referred to the three-year sentence received by Crown witness Marlon Dillon. She pointed out that he had pleaded guilty to both the CNB and Weststar robberies, had cooperated and given serious and sustained assistance in these and other cases. All these factors were well-known bases for discounts.
She noted that all defendants were fairly young men; their time in custody would be taken into account and they would emerge from prison before they were 50 years old. They could show their families and the community it was possible to reform.