Judge: Knife crimes in Cayman ‘worryingly prevalent’

A card game that erupted into violence led to a jail sentence of five and a half years for one of the players on Friday.

Orlando Anthony Graham, 34, was found guilty by a jury of wounding with intent after he stabbed a man at the card game.

While passing sentence Friday, Justice Michael Mettyear, expressed concern that knife crimes in Cayman were “worryingly prevalent.”

In the case before him, both the defendant and the victim claimed they were carrying knives for their own protection. The judge said this was a familiar and “pathetic” excuse.

Anyone who needs a knife for protection is mixing with the wrong people, going to the wrong places, or doing the wrong things, he remarked.

Graham and the victim had been good friends, he noted; they were fellow countrymen from Jamaica and were in contact every day.

The incident that led to the stabbing started on Sunday, Jan. 10, when Graham, the victim and two other men were playing cards. The playing continued into the early hours of the next day.

An argument broke out between Graham and the victim about the game. In his evidence to the jury, the victim admitted drawing his knife first. Justice Mettyear said he accepted evidence that Graham immediately followed by drawing his knife.

The argument continued with Graham claiming he was owed money from the stake. The host paid him the money. The victim put his knife away and started to leave. As he walked away, Graham stabbed him, cutting the lower chamber of his heart.

“It could have killed him,” the judge said.

Thanks to skilled medical treatment, the victim made a full recovery from the attack, the court heard.

The men continued to see each other on a daily basis and there had been no further trouble between them, the judge noted in his sentencing remarks.

“I don’t imagine for one moment that the defendant intended to stab someone that night,” Justice Mettyear acknowledged. But, he continued, when an argument starts and someone is carrying a knife, it will be easy to draw it and use it.

He accepted defense attorney Prathna Bodden’s plea in mitigation: that there was a degree of provocation because the victim had drawn his knife first [but then put it away]; that the stabbing was not planned; that it was a single blow rather than a sustained attack.

The judge also referred to the precedent brought to his attention by Crown counsel Neil Kumar, who was the trial prosector. Given the degree of harm caused and the level of culpability, the sentencing starting point was six years, with a range of five to nine years.

Justice Mettyear determined that six years was the appropriate sentence, but gave half credit for the time Graham had spent in custody and the approximate nine months the defendant had been wearing an electronic monitor and was subject to a 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. To round out the time, the judge arrived at a sentence of five-and-a-half years, emphasizing that time Graham spent on remand should not count because the judge had already considered it in his calculations.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.



  1. Ron

    In this case, as an example, the judge is focusing on the dangers of a knife in the hands of someone who might never have intended to stab or cut someone with it originally but because of having it and the situation arising, ended up using it on someone.

    It is the crime of carrying it in the first place that he is trying to make a point to Cayman’s society about, as there have been numerous examples recently of crimes committed, including murder but more prevalently manslaughter, wounding and GBH by people carrying and weilding knives in conflicts that might not have ended up in someone being seriously injured or killed, if the blade had not been a factor.

    It is very difficult to claim self-defense for the excuse of carrying a knife because self-defense, as defined by law, is the use of only the amount of reasonable force necessary to defend or protect oneself, relative to the threat perceived from an attacker.

    The use of a knife, in any situation, carries a very high risk and potential of killing or seriously injuring an adversary, regardless of the level of their threat….meaning, in most cases, the use of a knife in a fight is overkill, unless of course another knife or other dangerous weapon is being used by both parties in the actual conflict.

    It is highly unreasonable and unrealistic to expect the average person facing an attacker using a weapon, to defend themselves in a completely unarmed manner, so there are situations in which the use of a knife or other weapon can be justified but those situations must be clear and unambigious.

    Those of us who specialise in self-defense martial arts and training recognise and fear and teach others to respect the dangers of a blade as much, if not more than a gun.

    Blades do serious, long-lasting damage, even if one has not been lethally injured by one.

    Trust me, a knife is as or more dangerous than a firearm, mainly because they are easily available to just about anyone, and their illegal use should be discouraged and severely punished.

  2. Ricardo,
    The point of discussion of gun and knife , they are both dangerous . I think that if you are going to talk about one dangerous weapon , why not talk about all dangerous weapons .
    To me it doesn’t make sense to fix the knife problem now , and a later time have to come back and fix the gun problem . We know that the knife is the easiest weapon to get today , but the gun access same to be getting out of control . I think that the kind of person that would use a knife on a other person over a card game , would have used a gun if he had one .

    If you want to see the problem with guns and not knife , go to Chicago where you can get any and every kind of knife you want . But what is their choice of weapon the gun .
    Remember that if you go to a fight , one has a knife and the other has a gun , the one with the gun would likely win .