Two men were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on Thursday for causing grievous bodily harm to Carlney Campbell, who was shot in the early hours of Saturday, Feb. 4, in the vicinity of Fete nightclub along West Bay Road.
Kashwayne Hewitt, Malik Mothen and Mr. Mothen’s wife had been charged with attempted murder as a result; the jury found all three not guilty, but convicted the two men on an alternative count of causing grievous bodily harm with intent to cause such harm.
Mr. Hewitt, who turned 21 just last month, received a concurrent sentence of nine years for possession of an unlicensed firearm, to which he had pleaded guilty when the trial started.
Mr. Mothen, 36, had told police he assaulted Mr. Campbell and his cousin, Daniel Alexander Bennett, before Mr. Campbell was shot. He said he had used a knuckle duster to do so because he had been provoked. He pleaded not guilty, but the jury found him guilty. He received two sentences of 12 months to run concurrently with each other, but consecutive to the 12 years, for a total of 13 years.
Justice Roger Chapple explained why he was giving the men the same sentence for the shooting that had resulted in a shoulder wound to Mr. Campbell. He noted that the bullet had passed close to the spinal cord, which could have had catastrophic consequences. He did not wish to downplay the pain and suffering the victim had gone through and the terror he must have felt at the time, but the injury was not as bad as it could have been. The obvious aggravating factor was that it had been inflicted with a firearm.
The judge said it was clear from the jury verdicts that Mr. Hewitt had shot Mr. Campbell, who was on the ground at the time. Also on the jury verdicts, Mr. Mothen at the very least had participated in the attack on Mr. Campbell.
In sentencing Mr. Hewitt, the judge said he was taking into account this defendant’s age and the fact that he had no previous convictions. “By what you have done, you have thrown the next part of your life away,” he told the young man.
The judge said Mr. Mothen was the older man and did have previous convictions. This was the second time he had been involved in an offense where an innocent person was shot. “You are a violent, dangerous man on a short fuse,” he told this defendant.
Justice Chapple said the proliferation of guns and gun crime is a source of great concern in many jurisdictions, but particularly in the Caribbean and most particularly in Cayman. He said gun crimes threatened the stability, well-being and reputation of the island and its people. For that reason, deterrent sentences were required.
Later he referred to Cayman’s prosperity and international reputation, “which so many people have worked so hard to build and preserve, and on which the livelihood of so many depends.”
The judge referred also to Cayman’s mandatory sentences for unlicensed firearms – seven years on a guilty plea without exceptional circumstances and 10 years on a not guilty plea. For the category of injury received by Mr. Campbell, guidelines suggested a sentencing range of five to nine years, he noted. But it would not make sense that the sentence for an injury from the discharge of a firearm would be less than for possession of the firearm alone, he pointed out.
He said he was making a recommendation for Mr. Hewitt’s deportation after his sentence was served. “Given your behavior in the two months you were here [before the shooting], the island is better off without you.”
Mr. Hewitt’s attorney, Paul Hynes, had provided some background when he spoke in mitigation on Wednesday afternoon. He described his client as naive and unsophisticated, coming from a rural area of Jamaica. He had graduated from high school, but with no qualifications. He came to Cayman on Dec. 26, 2016, hoping to make a better life. He got married on Jan. 19, 2017. He did not find a job and ended up making a series of wrong choices. The jury had seen a photo of him with a gun, taken on a cellphone before the Fete incident.
On behalf of Mr. Mothen, attorney Jacob Hallam submitted that the jury had plainly taken the view that the grievous bodily harm had not been premeditated; it was the result of an outbreak of spontaneous violence in the context of people who were looking for trouble.
He suggested that the jury’s view was that Mr. Mothen had not gone out that night looking for trouble, but trouble came to him.
The judge agreed that alcohol was an ingredient in what had happened.