Abduction sentence reduced to 8 years

Court of Appeal judges on Monday reduced the sentence of a man serving a 10-year jail term for abduction to eight years.

Sywell Allen Kelly’s sentence had been imposed following a judge-alone trial in 2011, in which he was found guilty of the March 2010 abduction of a man who was held for US$500,000 ransom but who escaped a day after he was abducted.

Kelly’s attorney, Laurence Aiolfi, advised the Court of Appeal that as a result of the sentence being reduced to eight years, Kelly will have served his time in July this year. A prisoner’s sentence can be reduced by one-third for good behavior, according to the Prisons Law.

Kelly and Charles Felix Webster were arrested soon after the offense occurred and kept in custody. After finding them guilty, Justice Karl Harrison said their penalty had to be heavy because these offenses were foreign to Cayman and could not be allowed to spread and cause anxiety. The case was considered to be the first of its kind in Cayman.

Two other men were also charged. The man considered to be the mastermind fled the jurisdiction, while the fourth man assisted police and gave evidence in the trial of Webster and Kelly. He received a sentence of five years.

Webster appealed in 2013 and the court reduced his sentence from 10 years to eight. The Court of Appeal at the time said it would not have disturbed the 10-year sentence except for the disparity between that term and the five years given to the fourth man.

Five years suggested a starting point of eight years and the court saw no reason to have a higher starting point for Webster, who was considered a “foot soldier” in the scheme.

The grounds for Kelly’s appeal were the same as in Webster’s appeal. Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban agreed that Webster and Kelly had been sentenced on the same basis and there was nothing to distinguish them.

Court president Sir John Chadwick consulted with Justices Elliot Mottley and Sir George Newman, then announced that Kelly’s sentence should be in line with Webster’s and the appeal would be allowed.

The sentences for abduction and wrongful confinement were reduced from 10 years to eight. The sentence for blackmail was reduced from six years to four and a half, all to run concurrently. Lesser sentences for assault, robbery and threatening violence in the course of the incident were not considered.