Jeffrey Alexander Barnes, sentenced in 2013 to life imprisonment after a third conviction for rape, appeared in Grand Court on Friday to receive a term of a specific number of years. Justice Charles Quin reviewed the facts of the case, described by the Crown as “terrifying,” and he determined that the specific sentence should be 35 years.
Mr. Barnes, now 38, may apply for release on license after serving 21 years. Release is not granted automatically.
The re-sentencing was made necessary by Cayman’s Conditional Release Law, passed in 2014. Since the law came into force in 2016, judges have been dealing with individuals previously sentenced to life imprisonment after conviction for murder.
Mr. Barnes was the first person to be re-sentenced under this law for a crime other than murder. The Conditional Release Law states that if the life sentence has been imposed for non-murder convictions, the judge must specify the period of incarceration the prisoner shall serve before being eligible to be considered for conditional release on license.
In general, prisoners sentenced to more than one year are eligible to be considered for conditional release after serving 60 percent of their sentence. Justice Quin applied this 60 percent minimum, with the result of 21 years as the eligible mark, but emphasized that Mr. Barnes could be released only if he no longer represented a danger to the public. He said Mr. Barnes should be prepared to serve beyond this tariff because he could not be released until the Conditional Release Board considered it safe.
Justice Quin referred to the factors the Board is required to consider: whether imprisonment is no longer necessary for the protection of the public; the risk of the prisoner re-offending; whether rehabilitation can be safely carried out in the community; whether he is capable of complying with the conditions of a license.
The judge said he hoped the victim and her family would understand these facts.
He noted earlier that he had considered Mr. Barnes’s social inquiry report; he thought the psychological evaluation would be best used by the Conditional Release Board. It reported Mr. Barnes as saying he felt pleasure “taking” sex by force.
The board was also obliged to look at previous convictions. For Mr. Barnes, these numbered 29, with 13 of them for violence or offensive weapon. In 2001, he was sentenced to 10 years for rape. In 2010, he received 18 months for indecent assault. He was sentenced in May 2013 to 15 years after pleading guilty to abduction, attempted rape and rape.
The offenses for which Justice Quin sentenced Mr. Barnes occurred days before the offenses he pleaded guilty to, but he had denied them, saying the police planted evidence against him. A jury found him guilty.
Around 3 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2011, he had entered the victim’s residence as a trespasser with intent to rape her and carrying a knife. The victim was asleep, but woke up feeling she could not breathe properly and found a man on top of her. He had one hand on her throat and a knife against her windpipe. He raped her twice.
Around 6 a.m. she said she had to go to work. He told her to act normal and not tell anyone, saying he would be waiting for her. He said he had a gun and it made no sense for her to report the incident “because Cayman police don’t solve crimes.”
By that time, she was able to see a tattoo on his chest and a distinctive mark on his leg. She also noted his general appearance. She went to work and told her employer’s husband what had happened. She never went back to the apartment; she stayed at her employer’s home that night and flew to Jamaica the next morning. She remained in contact with her boss and eventually reported the matter. Police went to the apartment and recovered items for testing and found DNA evidence which matched Mr. Barnes’s DNA.
The woman gave evidence at his trial, ashamed to say out loud what he had done to her. “I came to the Cayman Islands to make my life better, and in coming here my life has been ruined,” she said.
Mr. Barnes’s 35-year sentence is to run from Sept. 23, 2013, when the life sentence was imposed.