(CNS): The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has upheld the life sentence given to Jeffrey Barnes in the wake of his conviction for a third rape. The serial sexual offender, who has convictions for indecent assault and many other offences, had appealed his sentence after his appeal against his last rape conviction was also refused. Barnes had argued that the life term was “manifestly excessive” but the appeal court disagreed and said the judge’s imposition of a life sentence could be justified, given the circumstances surrounding Barnes’ crime and his admissions that he enjoys taking women by force, making him a danger to society.
The court found in its decision to uphold the sentence that Barnes was convicted of very serious offences with many aggravating features and the judge was entitled to take the view that he “would remain a serious danger to the public for an indefinite period”, and impose a life term.
But the panel of judges also found that in addition to the seriousness of the crimes Barnes had committed, the high likelihood that he would do it again prompted them to ensure Barnes remains behind bars for a very long time.
They said the judge’s decision to impose a full life term was warranted by the appellant’s attitude, which was recorded by officials in a psychological evaluation. Barnes told doctors and counsellors that when refused sex by women he has met socially, he becomes frustrated and takes it. He admitted that he feels a sense of pleasure from taking sex by force.
“Although the psychological evaluation suggested that the appellant was at moderate risk of reoffending sexually if no efforts and treatment interventions were made to manage the risk factors it identified, the appellant’s antecedent history strongly suggested otherwise; and the judge was not obliged to accept the suggestion in the psychological evaluation in preference to his own view of the facts and likelihoods,” the judges stated in their decision, as they backed Justice Charles Quin, the Grand Court judge who had imposed the life term on the serial rapist.
They pointed out that the law gives the court discretionary power to impose a life sentence in the case of a second category A offence, while in Barnes’s case it was his third on top of an already long rap sheet for other, including violent, offences.
With the advent of the conditional release law, Barnes, like the other lifers in HMP Northward, all of whom are convicted of murder, will have the opportunity over the next two years to apply to the court for a fixed tariff specifying the number of years he will need to serve before he is eligible to be considered for parole. The life tariff legal guideline is currently set at 30 years but the judges are given some discretion relating to the circumstances.