The robbery of a home where the defendant had earlier been hired to carry out some work was a breach of trust, acting Grand Court judge Dame Linda Dobbs said in handing down a sentence of 11 years imprisonment on Thursday.
William David Martinez McLaughlin was found guilty earlier in the day after a jury trial that began on Monday and included a visit to the crime scene in the Rum Point area of North Side.
Martinez had admitted being part of a burglary plan. He told the court he went to the home on Jan. 11, 2016, to see if it was occupied. The plan was that another person would enter the premises if no one was home, and Martinez would remain outside as lookout. It turned out that three people were in the house. The intruder, known to him as “Boom,” went in anyway.
Martinez told the court he had worked in the house in December. He said his boss had called him and said he needed assistance with the repair of a toilet.
The judge said that contractors who are given entry to people’s homes are in a position of trust. She told Martinez he had broken that trust by pointing out the premises to Boom as “being a place with rich pickings.”
Crown counsel Greg Walcolm, who was the prosecutor in the trial noted that the maximum sentence for robbery is life imprisonment. New sentencing guidelines in Cayman set the starting point for a home robbery at 11 years, with a range of nine to 13 years.
Aggravating factors that would raise the sentence included the abuse of trust, since Martinez had gathered information while trusted to be in the house, he said. Another factor was that the victims were vulnerable: the couple who owned the home were both in their 70s; the wife had mobility issues and needed to use a walker. Further, the intruder wore a mask and used a knife to threaten violence, he summarized.
Stolen goods were of high value, he submitted. Jewelry was of sentimental significance, he added, since it included the wife’s wedding ring and bangles given to her by her husband’s mother.
Defense attorney Nicholas Dixey submitted that Martinez had played a limited role. He suggested a starting point of five years, with a range of four to eight years.
In mitigation, Mr. Dixey pointed out that the Crown’s evidence had come from the defendant’s own admissions and his information led to the recovery of a gold and diamond necklace valued at $17,000. The attorney did not agree that the robbery was an abuse of trust, arguing that the term applied to offenses by employees and caregivers. He emphasized that Martinez had no previous convictions for violence.
In addition to robbery, Martinez was originally charged with causing grievous bodily harm because the male occupant of the home had sustained a serious injury – a broken bone in the area around his eye.
However, when the man gave evidence, he was unable to say how the injury occurred. He said he was on the porch working on his iPad. His back was to the screen door, which was closed but not locked. Asked what was the first thing he knew about the incident, he replied, “Somebody got me up off the floor.”
The helper was in the kitchen at the time and did not see what happened. The man’s wife heard a commotion and when she looked, her husband was already on the floor.
Because of insufficient evidence, the jury was instructed to return a not guilty verdict on this count.
In passing sentence, the judge noted that it was not known how the homeowner’s injury occurred, “but it was the result of the robbery.” She called it a nasty robbery in the home of a disabled person when it was getting dark.
Martinez’s accomplice wore a mask and held a knife to the neck of the couple’s helper and dragged her by the hair as he went around the home and took items. The effect of the balaclava must have been very frightening, she said. Boom had put it on outside and Martinez had not stopped him. “You saw all this and stayed to the end,” she told him.
In her view, the aggravating and mitigating factors balanced out, leaving the sentence at 11 years. Time in custody since Martinez’s arrest will count.