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.