Woman cleared of arson due to mental health

| 09/01/2017 | 9 Comments

(CNS): A Grand Court judge found a local woman from North Side not guilty of three arson-related charges because of mental health challenges that impaired her ability to understand or even remember her crimes. The 57-year-old woman was accused of setting fire to her own home in the district more than three years ago but the case has dragged through the courts because of a catalogue of issues and questions surrounding the woman’s fitness to answer the charges or stand trial.

At the time of her arrest the former civil servant had admitted setting the fires, but she believed that her house was evil because she was hearing voices through her air-conditioning system and ceiling fans. The woman also said she believed her estranged husband was trying to kill her.

Once in custody and on remand, the woman began receiving treatment for her mental health issues, which, according to evidence given by government psychiatrist Dr Marc Lockhart, were quite severe. Since then however, she has improved and was eventually bailed into the care of a family member.

A collection of psychiatric and social reports over the last three years all concluded that she was so impaired at the time she did not know what she was doing and that she would have trouble remembering what happened.

Dr Lockhart had also noted that it would serve no purpose to prosecute the woman, who had pleaded guilty and then not guilty, because of her mental health issues. He had described her fire-starting as automatising and involuntary. Commenting on the fact that she had a history of mental health and emotional problems, Dr Lockhart pointed to the importance of treatment over punishment.

Having conduct of the case, which dragged on for over three years, Justice Charles Quin agreed with the findings of the mental health experts and acquitted the woman, who has no previous criminal history, on the basis that she was suffering at the time from a serious mental illness and that she was insane.

Setting strict guidelines for the woman’s treatment and support, the judge described it as a special case in which she did not know what she was doing at the time and was not able to properly participate in her own defence had she gone to trial.

However, Justice Quin said that her treatment was paramount, and set out various conditions based on the recommendations of Dr Lockhart and other relevant agencies.

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Category: Courts, Crime, Health, Mental Health

Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This just in, politician cleared of their duty becauss of mental health issues.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Northside will be relieved to hear an insane arsonist is back in their community without any adequate rehabilitation apparatus. There is no budget or political will to address Cayman’s expansive mental illness problem, while money is wasted by the hatful on meritless crap.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Any credence to the rumour she has been re-arrested for another incident taking place over the weekend?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lets hope she gets the support and care she needs to stop her being a danger to herself as well as others. There for the grace of God go we.

  5. Anonymous says:

    so a Caymanian woman with clear signs of mental illness is put through the system for 3 years, but an American expat who knowingly tried to murder her whole family and the police and dpp look the other way? White expats get away with too much bs.

    How much of Cayman’s $ did the DPP waste on this case?

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s a cultural thing. Women are tough in the US.

    • Diogenes says:

      What American expat case?

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s been under “investigation” by the police for a LLOOOOOONNNNNGGGGGG time. From my knowledge, several entities are aware of it. Woman tried to kill her husband and young child. But apparently the police and prosecutors charged the husband with assault after he saved the child’s life. The media can’t really cover it, because the police and dpp haven’t done anything about it.

        He was covered in bruises. The mother is walking around free. White American woman with a history of domestic violence. Coloured Father with no history of violence, and the investigating officer is a white expat woman too. Funny thing, is he has had to call the police on her 3 more times for assault AFTER they were separated, and all of the cases continue to get “closed” by the police with no explanation. Plenty of witnesses have seen her in action but the police just continue to ignore it.

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