Kirkland Henry and Larry Prinston Ricketts were sentenced on Thursday afternoon to 40 years in prison for the 2008 murder of rights activist Estella Scott-Roberts.
Forty years is the minimum they must serve before they can apply to the conditional release board for release on license. Release may be granted at that time, or later, or not at all.*
Chief Justice Anthony Smellie handed down the sentences because he was the one who presided at their judge-alone trial, finding them guilty in February 2010 and sentencing them to life imprisonment, the only penalty prescribed in Cayman at the time.
The chief justice said it was difficult to imagine more cruel and depraved treatment toward a defenseless woman. Her murder was “unprecedented in these islands,” he said. Mrs. Scott-Roberts was abducted from the car park of a West Bay Road restaurant on the night of Oct. 10, 2008. She had been at a “girls’ night out” celebration of her 33rd birthday.
Mr. Henry was 27 and Mr. Ricketts was 25 at the time. They took her in her own car to a deserted area of Barkers, West Bay. Her mouth was taped and her hands tied. She was raped and robbed. Then she was suffocated by means of a plastic bag forced over her head. Her car was then set on fire with her body in it.
She was identified by dental records. The Conditional Release Law, which came into force on Feb. 15, 2016, requires a specific sentence instead of the indeterminate “life.” The person convicted of murder must serve that entire sentence before being eligible to apply for release on license. The law sets 30 years as the sentence, but provides for aggravating or extenuating circumstances to raise or lower that term if those circumstances are exceptional.
The aggravating circumstances that were exceptional in this case included the planning and premeditation, abduction, the physical and mental suffering inflicted, the attempt to conceal her body and the robbery. In addition, Mr. Henry had taken an intimate photo of her and kept it on his phone. Chief Justice Smellie said there were no extenuating circumstances.
There was some argument that the men had intended to rob Mrs. Scott-Roberts and she was killed only when they realized she would be able to identify them. The chief justice rejected this view; he found that the murder was deliberate, not spontaneous. He found that the men acted in concert.
The one question raised that had delayed sentencing concerned Mr. Henry’s mental state. Government psychiatrist Dr. Marc Lockhart said Mr. Henry was now suffering from adjustment disorder and delusional psychotic disorder. Early in his incarceration, however, he had not met the criteria for an antisocial disorder.
The chief justice indicated he was satisfied that Mr. Henry’s current mental state was not present at the time of the murder.
- Editor’s Note: This paragraph was inserted in the story after initial publication for clarification purposes.