A West Bay man accused of fatally shooting father-of-two Mark “Hubba” Seymour in the doorway of a crowded restaurant plans to claim he was suffering from “diminished responsibility” at the time of the killing, a jury heard Tuesday.
Witnesses saw Ian Rivers shoot Mr. Seymour once in the neck and then stand over him and shoot him again in his head, chest and stomach, Cheryll Richards, director of public prosecutions, said in her opening statement on day one of the murder trial in Grand Court.
She said many of the facts of the killing outside Super C’s restaurant in West Bay in January of last year are not disputed.
“It is anticipated that the issue in this case will be the state of mind of the defendant when he fired those fatal shots,” she said.
Under Cayman Islands law, it is open to anyone accused of murder to attempt to prove that they were suffering from an “abnormality of mind” that substantially impaired their mental responsibility for the crime. Ms. Richards said that if the defense raised the issue of “his mental state,” then the jury would likely hear medical evidence from both sides.
She said witnesses would describe how Mr. Rivers had ridden up to the restaurant on his bicycle and shot the victim multiple times before telling him “You deserved it.” She said one witness would claim that the gunman had then pointed the weapon at him, firing three more times as he fled the scene.
Mr. Rivers, who lived opposite the restaurant, was seen shortly afterward in the doorway of his home, from where he fired three more shots, Ms. Richards added.
Police officers also saw Mr. Rivers in the doorway and heard the sound of gunshots before he disappeared inside. Armed officers surrounded the home and police were able to make contact with the defendant by phone, through his girlfriend, who was also inside.
After speaking to a detective, whom he knew, Mr. Rivers agreed to give himself up and exited the property with his young daughter at his side, Ms. Richards said.
As he was being arrested, he told police, “At least I am still standing.”
Ms. Richards said he made further statements as he was being driven to the detention center, telling police he had not slept for five days and that he felt tired and very lonely. She said he claimed the man – Mr. Seymour – had been after him and said he told police “things could have been worse” but that he loved his family and would not harm them.
He also stated this was a “poor man thing,” Ms. Richards said. Officers recovered the murder weapon from the bathroom of the home and 22 spent shells were found around the yard.
She said prosecutors believe the motive was “simple jealousy.” Mr. Rivers had lost his job and was living in the yard of his girlfriend’s house, not inside the home. He had been drinking heavily and not sleeping. He believed his girlfriend, with whom he has four children, had approached Mr. Seymour for money, she said.
“He was experiencing anger over his financial situation, feelings of inadequacy and jealousy and this erupted in the assault against Mr. Seymour,” she said.
“The issue in this case is likely to be a narrow one,” Ms. Richards told the jury.
“Most of the factual matters are not in dispute. Most of those that will be called will have had direct sight of the defendant so they can tell you how he looked or what he said. All of that will be part of the circumstances you have to consider as you decide this case.”
The jury later heard testimony from William Ebanks who had been standing in front of a neighboring shop when the shooting started.
Mr. Ebanks, who said he was familiar with both men, described how Mr. Rivers had approached on a bicycle with a towel over his arms, before firing at Mr. Seymour, whom he knows as “Hubba.”
He said, “I heard a boom and Hubba started running. When the shot pop, I look and I see the gun. Hubba grabbed his neck and ran and just fell in the restaurant door.”
He said he had seen Mr. Rivers stand over Mr. Seymour and shoot him again several times at close range, telling him, “This is how I do dogs.”
He said Mr. Rivers then fired at another man, who was “carrying a bowl”, coming up the road, before riding back to his house. He said he saw him fire three more times from the front of his house at the helicopter.
“He should have known that little light gun couldn’t catch a helicopter,” he said. “You would need a bazooka.”
The trial was continuing at press time Tuesday.