Courts to handle tariffs for 16 lifers

| 03/03/2016 | 63 Comments
Cayman News Service

Steve Manderson, on a life sentence at HMP Northward

(CNS): Legislation recommending 30 years as the starting point for those convicted of murder could see serial escapee Steve Manderson, currently the longest serving prisoner in the Cayman Islands, become one of the first ‘lifers’ to walk free under the new conditional release law. None of the fifteen men serving mandatory full life terms in HMP Northward for murder or another for a double rape has reached the suggested defined term of a life sentence for murder yet, but each one over the next 24 months will be reviewed and Manderson will be near the top of the docket.

The 47-year-old man, who has served more than 22 years behind bars for his part in the killing of a prison guard during an incident at Northward in 1993, has, however, escaped more than six times, which may have a detrimental impact on the sentence he is eventually given, undermining his first realistic chance of escaping for good.

In an interview on the government’s television channel, Peter Gough, the deputy governor’s strategic advisor, explained that the new tariffs will be decided by Grand Court judges. who will conduct a sentencing exercise, but the law has a built-in starting point of thirty years and guidelines on aggravating and mitigating circumstances.

With other long-term inmates having been released over the last few years under licence by the previous governor, Duncan Taylor, and the current governor, Helen Kilpatrick, Manderson is the only inmate who has served more than two decades behind bars. While his case is expected to be one of first to be reviewed, his term behind bars could nevertheless exceed the 30 year guideline as the new law makes it clear that killing a public official, such as a police officer or a prison guard, is an aggravating factor. Depending on the court’s view of the circumstances that led to the guard’s murder, Manderson’s parole date could be pushed well beyond 2023.

Gough explained that once the new minimum sentences are spent, there is still no guarantee that convicted killers will be released because that decision will be made by the newly appointed Conditional Release Board, which will determine the risk factors associated with an inmate’s release and his rehabilitation. They can refuse to release any inmate until they feel they are ready and all lifers who are released will remain on licence for the rest of their lives.

The change in the law to introduce tariffs and abolish the previous life without parole mandatory sentence brings the law in line with the Cayman Islands Bill of Rights. The legislation provides two years for the Grand Courts to review all 16 cases and set tariffs.

While 30 years may be the starting point, the tariffs are likely to differ. The number of convictions, the circumstances of each crime and the age of the 16 men serving mandatory terms will all be taken into consideration, based on the stated guidelines in the law.

The legislation lists both aggravating and mitigating circumstances that can allow judges to depart from the 30 year suggested definition of a life term, so the final term could fall either below or above that starting point.

Aggravating factors in the regulations include pre-meditation, the vulnerability of victims, their suffering and fear or level of threats before the murder, abuse of a position of trust, the concealment of a body, sexual or sadistic conduct, previous convictions and the murder of a public official. Mitigating factors include the relative youth of the killer, their culpability and level of intention, and the provocation or mental health disorders of an offender.

Gough noted that once lifers reach their parole eligibility dates, the victims’ families will, if they wish to, have a say in all conditional release decisions by submitting statements to the board. The prisoners themselves will also be able to make representations.

Check back to CNS throughout this month for more stories about the newly implement conditional release law.

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Category: Courts, Crime, Prison

Comments (63)

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  1. MM says:

    Well… according to the comments everyone seems to be in agreement that Steve is innocent and didn’t commit the murder… so who did? Somebody must be able to shed some light on this for me too…

    • Anonymous says:

      According to those who were not in the jury, weren’t the judge or the Court of Appeal, being the people who saw the relevant evidence. They all thought he was a murderer.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is this to make space for the new criminals?

  3. juniper says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    A rapist should never see the light of day and should be put down like rabid dog in my opinion. They are below scum and don’t deserve to share air with anybody. Any person who disagrees should be ashamed of themselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Any person who disagrees should be ashamed of themselves”.

      Well, I am all for very harsh treatment of rapists, but I am also wary of people who use the line “if you don’t agree with me, you are wrong” without the benefit of consideration of the actual case.


      • Anonymous says:

        The more intelligent among us already understand that in accordance with the laws of the universe in which we live, no experience can come to any one individual without that experience being drawn to and ALLOWED on some level and for some purpose by that individual to happen to that individual.

        • Anonymous says:

          Holding several degrees, I have learned the following in life. First, those that classify themselves as being among the intelligent rarely are that near the top of the intelligence pyramid. In the regard self-proclamations of intelligence have much in common with people who rush to classify themselves as middle class. Second, those who use capital letters to make a point are unable to make their point properly. Third, reading your post several times the only natural conclusion to draw is that whatever point you were making, it is probably, if not almost certainly, 100% BS.

          • Anonymous says:

            “Holding several degrees” you very clearly and most decidedly have NOT learned that those who classify themselves as being among the intelligent rarely are that near the top of the intelligence pyramid. Reading your post only once, the only natural conclusion to draw is that whatever point you were making is, not probably, but most certainly 100% bulls*it

            • Anonymous says:

              It appears that you are incapable of original thought which does back up the hypothesis somewhat.

              • Anonymous says:

                Are you sure it was really me or was it that other intelligent person above me that pissed your poor little brain off.

          • Anonymous says:

            You very clearly have an impressive list of the art of writing 100% BS. Perhaps adding yet another degree in understanding the laws.of the universe just might get you to.the bottom of the intelligence pyramid.

          • Anonymous says:

            Maybe your next degree should be in Cultural Awareness. The term “BS” speaks volumes my poor little delusional friend.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sickening to see so many defending a convicted killer. Either they were in prison at the time it happened, so criminals supporting criminals, or they weren’t there and they cannot reasonably second guess the Court system which heard evidence and afforded the criminal the chance to appeal and apply for further appeals.

    • Anonymous says:

      Disagreeing with the law is essentially the same as breaking the law, dude. Since breaking the law is what defines a criminal i suppose that makes you as bad as anyone in Northward. Go get yourself a life, will ya.

      • Anonymous says:

        Do explain your tortured logic, because it appears to lead to the conclusion that you are a criminal, because you are disagreeing with the law by indicating you considered this convicted criminal not be a criminal.

        • Anonymous says:

          My tortured logic does not in any way excuse your criminal conviction, but merely and realistically points out that mere homan individuals appointed by the rest of us to uphold the law are not God and are therefore not infallible. The general public including yourself HAS NO IDEA WHATSOEVER whether this man is guilty as charged, and that, my friend, makes every member of the public who is intent on crucifying him in blatant disregard of this blatant and totally undeniable FACT as big a criminal in the eyes of Almighty God as Steve himself is accused of being.

          • Anonymous says:

            God does his judging in his territory, the judges have that job in this one. He has been convicted, the jury considering that the evidence provide beyond reasonable doubt that he is a murdered. He failed in his appeals. He is a criminal until he can prove otherwise. That is how it works.

            • Anonymous says:

              “How it works” doesn’t necessarily make it right dude. That is likely why the law itself is supporting his release. Now if you would PLEASE forget your ridiculous efforts to hang this man on a cross?

            • Anonymous says:

              You may not like it or agree with it my friend but this territory is very much God’s territory.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Life means life. You take one, you give yours up. Keep the criminals where they belong. There are already enough guilty people walking around the island. Let’s not add to it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    we already have criminals who are raising hell in the streets of Cayman and yet we are considering releasing these convicted and hardened criminals into the mix? I personally know 1 who has not one ounce of remorse in him for the heinous crime he did to that taxi driver, Seymour. They cannot release these monsters!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Honestly, I think a lot of prisoners at Northward are innocent.In this particular case with Mr. Manderson, they should go back and review the evidence and imprison the right person., starting from the guards.

  9. Anonymous says:

    As a general rule the death penalty should be re-instated. The gallows are still there, in fact the room below the trap-door is used to house prisoners on remand. Half an hour and the whole system could be back in working order.
    There should, however be a better method of reviewing cases after conviction before the ultimate penalty is applied.
    In Steve’s case, for example, it is very doubtful that events transpired in the way they were recounted in court and the unfortunate prison officer may well have fallen victim to a different scenario.
    BUT these things can be examined and resolved so that the out-and-out murderer receives his just deserts.

  10. KR says:

    I personally do not know all the persons that they wish to issue tariffs for, but I know that they should give it to Steve Manderson. As much times as he has escaped from HMP, you have never heard of him doing anything to anyone considering he is deemed a convicted murderer!

    • Anonymous says:

      Apart for his repeated lawlessness and criminality by escaping. Aside from his repeated deliberate criminal activity there is no evidence that he is still prone to criminal activity.

      • Anonymous says:

        If you were jailed for life for a crime you didn’t commit it would probably turn you into a “criminal” too, a**hole.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank God there is a whole lot more support here for Steve than there are dumb comments from idiots with absolutely no idea as to why they are even making them.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’m of the opinion that Manderson should not have been convicted for murder and sentenced to life. I believe the circumstances surrounding that matter were vague and perhaps he was not well represented, thus I feel he was wrongly convicted. I also believe that his frequent escapes were his way of protesting that sentence.

    He initially went to Northward for a spliff and ended up serving life. No doubt he has become a hardened criminal because of his long prison experience and perhaps a sense of unfairness, but if others who definitely committed pre-meditated murder have been released, then so should Steve Manderson.

    What if he was wrongly convicted? It happens every day in the world and lately there have been many such cases revealed in the US. Why couldn’t that have happened in Cayman?

  12. Rob says:

    Please don’t let the rapists, paedophiles and murderers out. They are just going to make everyone feel uncomfortable.

    Furthermore, the consideration of amnesty for these people is not fair to the victims’ families, especially for those that murdered. Imagine these criminals going home to catch up with their loves ones, but their victims’ families have to go to the grave site to lay flowers and cry beside a slab of cement.


    This is nonsense at best.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Steven Manderson longest serving, what happened to Philip Ebanks who in cold blood killed miss chee chee from west bay, i believe this happened before 1993?? Macandy should be coming in after, we all know the two brothers who killed their father in east end are out, so hence cold blooded killers are walking the streets as we speak!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Can’t help wondering how many innocent lives have been heartlessly wasted by the cold blooded killer brothers from East End since they’ve so very irresponsibly been allowed to roam our streets. GET A LIFE, people.

    • Anonymous says:

      Philip Ebanks was released a couple of years ago on a Governor’s Licence.

      Just so you know.

  14. Harvey says:

    Sometimes jail is to punish and reform, other times it is just to remove the person from society. In Manderson’s case he should not be allowed back into our society, period.

    • Anonymous says:

      Reform is a waste of money forced on us by idealists with a pseudo-Christian belief in redemption. If a criminal is going to change their ways they will do it. Programmes in jail make no difference and vast amount of resources are wasted on those who commit crimes when they come out anyway, most of whom are only doing the programme to get an early release.

    • Anonymous says:

      Says Lunatic harvey who apparently proved Steve guilty without a doubt and who is apparently above the law, and who should probably be permanently locked away in a secure asylum.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Can’t he be charged with some of these escapes just to keep him away from good people for a bit longer?

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank goodness the law and the lord are both more intelligent than some of you, quote “good people” unquote. To forgive is divine, good people, especially if you never committed the crime you’ve spent three quarters of your life in jail for.

      • Anonymous says:

        That is the sort of liberal nonsense that mainly resulted in letting criminals out early to commit more crimes. When it comes to the benefit of the doubt between good law abiding people and violent criminals, I am on the side of good people over violent, selfish, lawless, evil ones.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Thank goodness we have a former CNB Compliance officer to handle these big parole decisions for our society.

    • Anonymous says:

      And a retired pastor and some attorneys who have no experience of sentencing and parole.

      • Diogenes says:

        But decent people who are far from stupid and can be expected to represent the views of “non professionals ” rather than get caught up in politically correct mumbo jumbo. I bet you are sitting there saying ” I it were me.” but the difference is they volunteered to to do an unpopular but important job s you just want to stand on the sidelines and throw rocks. Would you really prefer these decisions were taken by “experts” in the field? Don’t know about you but sick to my back teeth of decisions being deferred by consultation with experts ( then ignored) which bear no resemblance T what the public issues are.

        • Anonymous says:

          There is nothing in Cayman that could be done by a professional that a bunch of people with no experience, too much time on their hands, a pending PR application or a religious conviction cannot do better.

          • Anonymous says:

            You are apparently too ignorant to recognize your own intelligence.

          • Anonymous says:

            I am not sure on what basis it is being said that the members of the Board are unqualified. For what it is worth, the composition of the Board is broadly in line with what is required for the Parole Board in the UK, and arguably exceeds it in some areas:


            We have an educational psychologist, a criminal barrister with a criminology Masters degree from Cambridge, and a QC. We also have independent members with broad experience, including human rights jurisprudence.

            It might be said that we also need a judge and a psychiatrist on the Board, but given that the decisions of the Board will be subject to court supervision through Judicial Review, and the reports which the Board consider may well include reports from a psychiatrist and the probation team, it cannot sensibly be argued that this is a material deficiency.

            The Conditional Release Law brings the Cayman Islands’ penal legislation into the 21st century and we are fortunate to have a well qualified and diverse team on the Board. Let’s give them a chance, and judge them by how many of their decisions are turned over on Judicial Review.

            • Anonymous says:

              I think that you will find the much maligned “risk manager” is also an experienced Magistrate.

            • Anonymous says:

              See past the spin. A funds lawyer who has not done criminal law for years, a lawyer who seems to have no criminal law experience, a bank compliance officer, a religious retiree etc etc. No one with any useful recent direct experience. No parole board in the UK would sit with such a poorly staffed panel to choose from look at the studies.

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