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Mother gets 28 years for child murder

| 06/05/2016 | 54 Comments
Cayman News Service

Tamara Butler with daughter Bethany

(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.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (54)

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  1. john says:

    What needs to happen before anyone is allowed to enter these islands is a vetting process to identify problem so we don’t have to take them on we have or own we don’t need others as well, I see it everyday people come here with a lot of different medical problem and they’re hired in Gov and other places proper back ground check are necessary.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, right. Count your blessings and leave the rest.




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    • Anonymous says:

      I actually feel a little ashamed that I live in such a backward country that if has a judicial system that has failed this woman do miserably. We are obviously still in the dark ages.




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  2. anon says:

    The comments here are crazy. So many people want to hold and coddle Tamara, and they hardly mention her 6 year old daughter who was trying to escape leaving footprints in her own pool of blood. What’s with you people?

    If Tamara is mentally ill, that does not mean that she can let knives fly or bullets rain on others without consequences. You all are suggesting doctor visits and specialized treatment. What a walk in the park! Punishment is absolutely necessary and the judge made no error. He was soft in my opinion. Keep your focus on the innocent and defenseless child – she is the victim.

    I am truly puzzled by all this sympathy for a murderer.




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  3. Anonymous says:

    i hope the judge has ordered that she be deported if she lives out the prison sentence.




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  4. Anonymous says:

    Such a sad case. As a former employee of the RCIPS who was dismissed did they know she had mental issue? why should we have to pay for keeping her in Cayman for 28 years. 28 x $ 70,000 = 1,960,000 CI. Why should we have to pay for expats with mental issue?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Jealous? Boy, Caymankind. Glad you no longer RCIPs, racism not needed there.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Speaking of racism, you might just be interested in learning that that is precisely what coined the idiot word ‘Caymankind’. Then again maybe that is more than your little peabrain can handle.




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  5. Allar says:

    I am no lawyer but it was clear during the case that the doctor found this lady has a serious mental illness. All you bloggers should be thankful that you don’t have the illness this lady have, I have dealt with person with mental illness and when they have their episodes and return to some sort of conscious demeanor you instantly knows they could not help what had taken place. In my opinion the judge was wrong this lady needs help and fair banks is not the solution she needs a facility that treats the illness she has. We in Cayman have for too long ran from this issue and every judge do the same incarcerate them and thinks the problem will go away.
    I wish that her lawyers can find some grounds of appeal as I don’t think the judge sentenced her fairly nor did he take the full circumstances into account.




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    • anon says:

      They found Bethany’s footsteps in her own blood, and you still want to hold and pet Tamara’s hand. You are ridiculous.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    if i ever physically harm my child in anyway outside of controlled discipline…..hang me.




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  7. Anonymous says:

    there are no way to win in this type of situation , she definitely has mental issues during the whole case she has not been moved by this horrible act she is not here and it’s nothing to criticize it can happen to us all no matter how beautiful how talented or how rich illness of any sort is for one and all , we can go to bed healthy and wake up the total opposite, RIP Bethany




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  8. Anonymous says:

    It is blatantly clear that this woman (or any human being in their right mind) could not possibly willfully and consciously do what she did in her right mind. The police who were apparenrly the first to be in contact with her following the act have clearly testified to this effect and this has apparently been completely ignored. God help us.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    The many manifestations of Mental Illness are just not recognized in the Cayman Islands, or by her courts. It’s very worrying to see sentences handed out like this to people that are obviously out of their heads. When are we going to get a handle on the full scope of the human condition?




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  10. Anonymous says:

    This is a gut wrenching case. The woman was clearly insane when she was committing this horrendous crime. Was she on medications that had altered her mental state? Anyone looked into this? If she was and the medication insert clearly warns about psychotic side effects, then this might change the whole thing.
    ..If the Cayman Islands developed and opened a secure mental health facility before her sentence is complete, she will not be held there. WHY???
    Google Susannah Cahalan, Brain on Fire. If not for her family, she would have ended up in a mental institution.
    No SANE mother kills her own child. Period. This woman needs to be properly evaluated and treated.




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    • Anonymous says:

      It is heinous and normal people commit crimes all the time. If you look at the prison from your perspective, all the prisoners should not be in person and they should be in mental hospitals.

      Face it, some people have less value of life or less interest in living by the law. Nothing more.

      Some individuals don’t care about anything. That doesn’t make them mentally ill. Some like this woman could fake mental illness and then have abnormal coping habits. Again not mentally ill. Just not something the average citizen would choose to do. The U.S. Psychologist did not classify her as mentally ill.




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    • Anonymous says:

      And no sane person would walk into an airport with a suicide vest to kill innocent travelers so we should stop dropping bombs on ISIS and arresting terrorists plotting to kill us, right? We should just say “forgive them lord for they know not what they do?” Tell me the difference.




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      • Anonymous says:

        There is a whole world of difference between plain ignorance and being or not being in control of ones faculties. These people are misled BY OTHER HUMAN BEINGS to believe their actions are to further a worthy cause which admittedly does also seem unbelieveable to me. The huge difference is they are fully conscious of their actions and no “professional” on the face of this earth can convince me that this woman was conscious of her action when this happened. Again the police themselvevs have testified to this effect and this has apparently been completely ignored.




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  11. Anonymous says:

    God told me to run for president – Ted Cruz. God gave me a clear msg that running for president is the right move – Ben Carson
    God told me to kill my own child because she is a demon – Tamara Butler.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    At his woman needs mental health treatment, not a jail term. I hope that her lawyer is able to find grounds for appeal.




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    • Anonymous says:

      I hope she is your next door neighbour when they set her free! She isn’t fit to live amongst the general public. Mentally ill or not she belongs behind bars!




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      • Anonymous says:

        Yes she needs to be locked up, no one is disputing that. What people are disputing is WHERE she should be locked up. She should not be put in a normal prison when she has a mental illness. She needs to be sectioned for a very long time for the sake of herself and others.
        Locking her up with no treatment is like locking a diabetic up with no insulin. It’s wrong.




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        • Anonymous says:

          This will be a very insensitive comment.

          Since she is mentally ill and doesn’t understand that she killed her daughter, then she doesn’t understand that she’s in prison. Keep her in prison and don’t treat her for anything because at the end of it all she has no idea what is going on anyway.

          Prison is intended to separate individuals who are considered dangers to society and to protect the community from them.

          Closer to the time she may potentially be released, start treating her then. She will be 65 and hopefully slow and frail, maybe only then she will be incapable of harming anyone. Though….will she be deported then? Because I understand that she is not caymanian. Otherwise, that means once she is out, the country will pay for her living expenses until her death.




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        • anon says:

          It’s not wrong. Justice has been served and Bethany has been avenged. If you want to give her special treatment after killing her 6-year old daughter, arrange for those costs to come out of your salary for the remaining 26 years and 191 days.




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  13. anonumous says:

    Definitely did not mean ugly – meant ” awfully deranged mother. My apologies.”




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  14. Anonymous says:

    So here we go again. By declaring Butler as fit per se, the Judge has taken away her right to mental health treatment in a mental health facility. Go figure. The judge said in his decision that he was not going to be swayed by emotion but what he said above shows that the emotional aspect was a factor in his decision. I love children and I am sure I would have loved this little girl, but Butler is mentally ill. Mentally ill – Judge so leaving her in prison without help is not the solution. It is time for Cayman to have a mental facility so that these inmates can have the right treatment. In addition, I say again that people do not understand mental illness. I have a relative who is mentally ill and when I was younger I used to think he was just a bad person. As I got to understand more, i had to accept that he was ill. It is sad for Butler, her child and her family. Her family know her best and they could not have expected this at all. My last point – when she comes out at 65, what will Cayman do with her? Her mother and father may be dead by then. Who will care for her if she survives? Who will hire her to work? What then? I am not saying she should not pay for her crime but taking away her opportunity to get help is against every moral principle and then abandoning her to nothing afterwards is equally cruel. Her husband had already abandoned her according to the court so how is this a solution?




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    • Out There says:

      I completely agree with this sound comment. Whatever we may feel toward Butler and the grief we feel for her child (it’s hard to endure thinking about that poor child’s last moments) we must, AS A SOCIETY, ask the questions that 6:14 does. Could some real treatment on island for the mentally ill have prevented this tragedy? What about attaching less stigma, as a people, to mental illness, so people who need help go and get it? Does this jail sentence do harm or ill to us as a society? The scenario painted of this woman when she gets out of jail at 65 is a good one to keep in mind. Will she be just wandering the streets of Cayman, pushing a shopping cart, babbling to herself? We need to stop focusing on her punishment – the worst of which, trust me, is not her jail sentence – and focus on how we put the right supports in place to preventing what happened to Bethany happen to another child. That’s the real takeaway from this heartbreaking case.




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      • Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

        What options did the judge have? There is no proper secure mental institution in Cayman. Was she considered capable of repeating this act on another “demon”, and therefore a potential threat to society? Maybe the judge opted for protection of society having little alternatives. Let us not be so judgemental, and consider the options that were best for all in this case.




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        • Anonymous says:

          The simple fact is that this woman could have been sent off island for proper help. She was in Cayman apparently on Government’s approval and Government is therefore ultimately responsible for her. Yes the Cayman community will ultimately foot either the multi million dollar bill to keep her in prison here for twenty eight years, or whatever the cost would be to get her professional help in another jurisdiction. This does nothing to justify an improper verdict by the courts. Who do you think will be to blame if she ends up killing half a dozen innocent officers in prison?




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          • Anonymous says:

            If she manages to kill any prison officers while in prison by herself without assistance, then the next step is to put her in isolation. Then consider deporting her to a prison in her home country, with the suggestion of restraining her in isolation until the end of her sentence.




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        • Anonymous says:

          There is one. Its called the LA.




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  15. Just praying says:

    I know what Tamara Butler did was wrong, and I try to imagine how she feels and the very thought makes me literally feel sick. This poor woman is in a bad place and I wouldn’t switch places with her for all the money on this planet times 100.

    I truly pray that her husband, family and friends can find it in their heart to forgive her as I know precious little Bethany has. She was a sweet angel and I am honoured that I personally knew her. I held her many times in the BT SDA church during service. Bethany was her parents pride and joy and everyone’s baby. She was loved by everyone. It was so good to see them all dressed in coordinating colours.

    I pray that God will grant Tamara peace and that she will someday forgive herself so that she can receive forgiveness, make the most of her life and plan a great reunion with Bethany in heaven.

    For all those that will give their thumbs down, may God bless you.




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    • Oakley says:

      You’re as insane as the mother! Dear Lord, help us ‘cuz we got some crazies in this town.

      “…make the most of her life”…..really? This woman brutally MURDERED her own child. God is not so forgiving for this; you need to wake-up and stop preaching your sanctimonious BS to people.

      I’m not saying you can’t “seek” forgiveness…..but some may fall on deaf ears.

      This woman doesn’t even have the capacity to recognize what she has done yet you think she can get past this and make the most of he life?

      Where is justice for Bethany? Where is the mental health facility that is LONG over due? When churches start facilitating the mentally unstable then you can come on here spouting that BS. Church doors close on a regular in these islands to those who seem “unfit” to be present. The most hypocrisy in Cayman is found in “God’s” house.




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  16. Anonymous says:

    I wish whomever at CNS was doing the reporting on this crime would take into consideration that all the evidence as it related to her mental health were taken into consideration and it was determined that she was not mentally unfit at the time when the crime had been committed. Frankly speaking if she was mentally ill, the Court would have determined that she was not a fit a proper person to assist in her own defence. Clearly, she was.

    It breaks my heart to know that the child that she brought into this world was trying to flee during the attack. From what I understand of this case, Ms. Butler intentionally and with the aim of hurting her husband chose to do harm to her child in an effort to hurt her husband. While in other situations I would have had sympathy for someone who is mentally ill, in this situation I cannot be sympathetic towards her at all.

    CNS: See previous story: Mother found guilty of child’s murder




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  17. Michel Lemay says:

    R.I.P. Bethany.




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  18. Anonymous says:

    At the end of the day, regardless of the mental health of the mother, she did kill her child. Blame anyone you want, but it was at her hands.




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  19. Anonymous says:

    She should get a year for every time she stabbed that poor child. 60+ would be more suitable.




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  20. Anonymous says:

    It brings tears to my eyes imagining what that poor child endured by the hands of her own mother. Mental illness is real but I can’t pardon the actions of her mother for any reason. RIP Bethany.




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    • Anonymous says:

      I wasn’t aware she had to answer to you.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Tell me that if someone were to butcher your child because they are mental. I don’t care what is wrong with her. She is still a murderer.




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        • Anonymous says:

          What I don’t understand is how no one with all the friends and her spouse did not recognize that this poor lady needed help. This little helpless child should never have been left at home with her poor sick mother. Depression is one of the worst sickness that one can have. You have to be there to understand. In my opinion a lot of people are to be blamed for her death its too late now crying over spoilt milk.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Considering our tax dollars will be housing her for the next 26+ years, I’d say we have a right to our opinions and can say what the hell we want.




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  21. Anonymous says:

    A very sad situation




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    • anonymous says:

      A mental health facility for the criminally insane such as Broadmore Hospital in the UK with it’s high solid perimeter walls, sirens for alarming the neighbours to lock your doors if anyone escapes, medical personal 24/7 to keep them medicated and top security staff and procedures is what is being referred to by many. Where in Cayman does such a facility exist? No where.




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