Tagged mugger gets ten years

| 10/09/2015 | 17 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cayman courts, Grand Cayman

(CNS): A local man who robbed a couple at knifepoint on the George Town waterfront last November while on bail for another offence and wearing an electronic tag has been handed a ten-year jail sentence. James Ramano Whittaker was given the lengthy term as a result of his long rap sheet and what Justice Charles Quin said were few mitigating circumstances in a violent crime. The 35-year-old man has 38 previous convictions, mostly burglary, committed in order to fund a long and persistent cocaine addiction.

Before the sentence was handed down Whittaker said he was sorry for his crime and “allowing my disease of addiction to control me”.

Whittaker had originally denied being the robber, pleading not guilty to the charge and giving two different alibis, but following a trial in June before Justice Quin, he was convicted of the knifepoint street robbery.

On the night of the mugging Whittaker was said to be wearing a hoody when he approached a young couple, who were sitting on the seawall on North Church Street looking at the ocean, and demanded money from them. When the victims said they had no money, Whittaker pulled a knife and held it to the man’s throat before forcing the couple to their car and making off with the woman’s bag and cell phone.

The couple reported the incident immediately and were able to first identify Whittaker from a police photo ID sheet and later from a line up. When the police arrested Whittaker they found him removing the foil from his electronic tag, which he had used to interfere with the device and allow him to leave his home and commit the crime while on curfew.

The prosecutor in the case described the crime as an unsophisticated street robbery aggravated by the use of a knife. The court heard that, while it was Whittaker’s first offence using a weapon, with 38 existing convictions, he was an habitual offender who had been using cocaine since he was a child. Following a difficult childhood, meeting his father for the first time at nine years old when his mother died, Whittaker was then abandoned by his father at just 13 and placed into care. It was then that he began using drugs and had continued his cocaine habit for more than 20 years.

Like all his previous crimes, Whittaker’s motivation was to get money for the drugs, the court heard.

He had, however, missed numerous opportunities offered by the courts for him to turn his life around, the judge said. Given his history of offending, the nature of this robbery and the use of the knife to threaten the couple, causing a “terrifying and traumatic” experience, the decade behind bars was justified, the judge said. He pointed out that people who use weapons in robberies must recognize they will go to prison for a long time.

Justice Quin said knifepoint robberies at night on the George Town waterfront had a wider negative impact on the community as well as the victims because they created a climate of fear and deter tourists. If not stopped, such offending would have a serious impact on the economy, the judge warned. Robbery was happening far too often, Justice Quin added, as he lamented the seriousness of the crime problem when a young couple could not enjoy the peace and quiet of the waterfront at night without fear of being robbed.

As he handed down his sentence, the judge said he hoped that Whittaker would use his time in jail to address his cocaine habit and learn a trade, so that when he is released he would be able to earn a living.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (17)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Clearly commenters are unhappy with this sentence. It does seem, in my opinion, rather lenient in view of the horrendous nature of the crime : holding a knife to a poor innocent’s throat? Unbelievable.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Nope. He’s born and breed right here in the Cayman Islands. Parents from NS and has Brac connections. Very sad.

  3. Big red says:

    So he will be out in five years less any time already spent on remand, let’s be honest here.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Too bad he didn’t get same lawyer as the guy with the cocaine addiction, he would have been able to claim disease and reason for robbing, terrible that he hasn’t had the help but on one hand he didn’t steal our pension money.

  5. Clear As Mud says:

    Thanks Judge Quinn. You are a good Judge.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What is the point of wasting so much money on these entirely ineffective electronic tags. Silver foil is all that is needed to defeat them as every Cayman criminal knows. It’s laughable – the only effective tag is a jail cell.

  7. Anonymous says:

    38 offenses and how many victims? Why on earth did it take so long to throw the book at him for a lengthy period? And still …………….this sentence doesn’t seem long enough either……..

    • Anonymous says:

      I’d have been a lot more comfortable with a twenty year sentence i.e. ten or so years with time served and “good behaviour”. This guy is a terrorist towards our society and way of life. What he did was horrifying, and I am so sorry for the poor couple he victimized. My heart goes out to them.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well you’ll have ten years to think about how your disease *forced you* to rob two people which having an electronic monitor on the middle of town. Maybe you’ll come to the conclusion that maybe its not the disease, but rather the fact that you’re a entitled selfish, immoral low life.

  9. Anonymous says:

    And in ten years time, he will resume his activities. Im sorry to say he will not stop until he runs into the wrong person who refuses to be a victim.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Too bad Ms. Wetton’s recent report didn’t recommend “three strikes you’re out” sentences for repeat offenders. Trade places in HMP for minor ganja use/possession for the real creeps!

  11. Big red says:

    Deportation order?

    • Anonymous says:

      I am sure if he has 38 previous convictions he is not an expat.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do not be so sure. You really think immigration is given all the details they need to enforce the law? Numerous expats get convicted without immigration even noticing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Not enough time…again

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