Several high-profile Cayman cases feature joint enterprise

The Law Courts Building in downtown George Town. - File photo.

Joint enterprise has been a feature of numerous high-profile cases in Cayman in recent years, including the murders of Estella Scott-Roberts, Frederic Bise and Marcus Duran, as well as in the New Year’s Day robbery of Diamonds International and a holdup at Blackbeard’s liquor store.

Murder of Estella Scott-Roberts

“By any standards, this was a horrendous crime,” Sir John Chadwick summarized when he gave the Court of Appeal decision that upheld the convictions of Larry Princeton Ricketts and Kirkland Henry for the October 2008 murder of Estella Scott-Roberts.

Following a birthday dinner with friends at a West Bay Road restaurant, she was seized by two men who forced her into her car and drove her to Barkers in West Bay.

They bound her with tape and raped her. She suffocated and died after a plastic bag was taped over her head. Her car was then set alight with her body inside.

The court affirmed the sentences of imprisonment for life.

The men had been tried together in Grand Court in February 2010. Henry admitted abduction, rape and robbery, but denied placing the plastic bin liner over Mrs. Scott-Roberts’s head; he said Ricketts had done that. Henry’s attorneys argued that he had withdrawn from what had been a joint enterprise.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, who heard the Grand Court case, convicted both men on the basis of joint enterprise.

Henry claimed not to have participated in the murder. However, the judge pointed out that by saying “It’s up to you,” and then standing by and watching, Henry gave implicit encouragement.

Henry knew his accomplice had used a knife to cut her hand at the beginning of the incident; he had to be aware that serious bodily harm would probably result from their joint enterprise.

Murder of Frederic Bise

Swiss banker Frederic Bise was murdered in February 2008. Chad Anglin was charged with the murder, tried in 2014 and found guilty.

Leonard Antonio Ebanks was tried separately, but the basis of the Crown’s case was that the murder was a joint enterprise.

The prosecutor said Bise had been strangled and severely beaten around the head and neck before being dragged into the boot of his car, which was then set alight in the driveway of his West Bay home. He said it would have required at least two people to place Mr. Bise in the back of the car. He told the jury that the prosecution would prove that it was Ebanks, along with Anglin, who had killed the banker in a “joint enterprise” murder.

A jury found Ebanks not guilty of murder but convicted him of being an accessory after the fact.

Justice Charles Quin, who described the murder as brutal, evil and gruesome, imposed a sentence of 20 years.

Murder of Marcos Duran

Jordan Manderson was charged with murdering Marcos Duran in 2010.

The Crown’s case, as presented by Cheryll Richards, director of public prosecutions, was one of joint enterprise – that there was a plan to rob Mr. Duran, who was said to be a known numbers seller, and that Manderson was one of the robbers. Mr. Duran died from a gunshot wound to the head.

In reaching a not guilty verdict, Justice Charles Quin asked himself a series of questions: Could he be sure Manderson knew of the planned robbery and took part before and at the time of the killing? Did he know guns were part of the plan? If he knew about the guns, could the judge be sure the defendant was aware it was likely one of the other participants would kill Mr. Duran? Could he be sure that Manderson killed Mr. Duran or that one of the other alleged participants killed him?

Justice Quin found there was no evidence that Manderson knew of the guns, had used a gun, or had foreseen that a gun would be used to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.

In August 2014, Raziel Jeffers was tried for Mr. Duran’s murder. Ms. Richards said there was no evidence to suggest that Jeffers was the shooter, but the prosecution attempted to prove that he had organized the robbery and alerted the gunmen to the location of Mr. Duran as he made cash pick-ups.

She said there is no suggestion that Jeffers fired the fatal shot or that he was present when it was fired. “The Crown’s case is that he is culpable in law for the offense of murder because of the roles that he played in masterminding and then aiding and abetting the unlawful attempt to rob,” she said. Jeffers was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 20 years.

New Year’s Day jewelry store robbery

Three men who pleaded guilty to robbing Diamonds International on New Year’s Day 2014 received different sentences. The concept of joint enterprise arose in mitigation offered by defense attorneys.

The robbery of goods valued at US$814,750 involved use of a loaded firearm. Jonathan Mark Ramoon, who carried the firearm and pointed it at a security guard, was sentenced to 15 years.

James McLean, who smashed glass showcases with a hammer, was sentenced to 12 years. He pleaded guilty to the firearm charge on the basis of joint enterprise. His attorney said he did not know a firearm would be used, but Justice Quin pointed out that McLean failed to withdraw from the robbery once the gun was pulled out.

The getaway car driver, Christopher Julian Myles, received 10 years. His attorney successfully argued that Myles did not know a gun would be used and, having stayed in the car, never saw a gun.

Blackbeard’s robbery

Justice Francis Belle explained how a jury should deal with joint enterprise in the trial of three men who had pleaded not guilty to the December 2014 robbery at Blackbeard’s Liquor Store in Grand Harbour. They were also charged with robbing a customer and possessing an unlicensed firearm.

Justice Belle reminded jurors they had to reach separate verdicts for each count and each defendant. If they were sure a defendant acted with others to rob the store, it did not matter what role he played. If they found that he did not act with the others in a common purpose, or if they were not sure, the verdict would be not guilty.

Jurors found Andrew Lopez, Bron Webb and Randy Dale Connor guilty and they were each sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment. Devon Wright Jr., 24, received nine years after his guilty plea.