(CNS): In the first sentence handed down for murder following the abolition of mandatory life-sentences without parole, a Grand Court judge has handed a 28 year minimum term to Tamara Butler, who killed her 6-year-old daughter Bethany in October 2014. Despite the recommendations in the new Conditional Release Law stipulating a 30 year tariff for murder, the law requires judges to take a long list of factors into consideration that may increase or decrease the term.
Given the circumstances of Butler’s crime, her mental health and her previous good character, Justice Alasdair Malcolm ordered that the 39-year-old woman will serve a further 26 years and 191 days before she is eligible for to be considered for parole, taking into consideration the time she has served since her arrest.
But Butler’s freedom will be contingent on the decision of the Conditional Release Board based on her rehabilitation at the time, when she will be around 65 years old.
As he delivered his ruling Friday, the judge spoke about the agony the child experienced, as he pointed to several footprints of the little girl that were found in her blood at the crime scene, indicating that she had clearly being trying to get away from her mother’s frenzied attack. He said the “hurt and physical suffering” of Bethany was “unimaginable”, as he pointed to the expectations of society that a child is cared for by their parents.
The judge made no comment about the treatment Butler is to receive in connection with her mental health. In his verdict Justice Malcolm had not accepted that Butler was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time of the murder but accepted she was suffering from mental health related problems.
Having been found guilty of murder, Butler will serve her sentence in prison. If the Cayman Islands developed and opened a secure mental health facility before her sentence is complete, she will not be held there but will remain at the Fairbanks women’s prison or any other jail designated for female inmates.
As the judge handed down the tariff and commented on the details of her crime, Butler appeared removed and disassociated, as she had throughout the proceedings.
During the trial psychiatrists had testified that Butler had claimed God had told her to kill her daughter because she was a demon. But Bethany’s father had also given evidence that his estranged wife had been a doting and adoring mother and he never had any inclination she would ever hurt their daughter.