Appeal court rejects lifers’ claim tariffs unfair

| 11/09/2019 | 13 Comments
Cayman News Service
HMP Northward

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Appeal Court has rejected claims by several men serving life sentences for murder that they are being unfairly treated as a result of the new regime dealing with mandatory life sentences. Some prisoners handed tariffs in excess of 30 years for their crimes contended that, as a result of precedent set by the governor’s office, they had a legitimate expectation they would serve shorter terms than the periods imposed before being allowed to apply for parole.

Since the abolition of the death penalty in Cayman in 1991, anyone convicted of murder has been handed a life-sentence. Before the introduction of the Bill of Rights, the theory was that inmates would never be paroled. But in reality several men who had either had their pending executions converted to life terms or were given a life sentence had, after serving significant terms, begun petitioning the governor for parole under his discretionary powers.

As a result, seven prisoners have been released since 2013 under the governor’s discretionary power, with at least another two still waiting on decisions. But from 2016, all lifers were to be dealt with under the new conditional release legislation, which calls for a tariff of at least 30 years for murder, unless there are exceptional circumstances that could lead a judge to reduce or increase that term.

Given that all seven of the lifers released under the old regime were paroled after serving less than thirty years, several inmates given tariffs under the new system had submitted to the appeal court that they also had a legitimate expectation that they could have applied to the governor for parole and be released much earlier than will now be the case.

Arguing on behalf of three men, all serving sentences well in excess of 30 years, defence attorney Amelia Fosuhene of Brady Law had said the men had a legitimate expectation as they were well aware of the previous system. She said consideration for their release could have happened much sooner than will be now be the case in the light of the minimum terms they have been given.


Fosuhene contended that prisoners have already been released after serving substantially shorter sentences and her clients expected it would apply to them as well, although she accepted that no specific promise was given to any of the applicants.

However, the judges found that “no question of legitimate expectation can arise on the facts” of the cases relating to Fosuhene’s clients, Larry Ricketts, Raziel Jeffers and Leonard Ebanks, as a legitimate expectation could only have arisen if the prisoners were told that they would be treated in a particular way and these men had not been given any indication that they would be released at any time until after their tariff hearings.

The judges said that these lifers, who were many years away from being considered under the current regime, could not expect that they would be treated years in the future under a discretionary process relating to a 1975 piece of legislation. Noting that the old regime had led to only a few releases, the judges said that even if it had continued, there was no reason to believe that these men would have been released any sooner in any event.

The argument was made on behalf of several lifers who came before the Grand Court for tariffs after their life sentences were set at the time of their hearings and had been rejected by the court.

However, with the release of some lifers after considerably less than 30 years and as little as 22 in one case, the appeal court had agreed to hear these cases as there is a clear discrepancy in the time that some prisoners will serve compared to others for the same crime.

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Category: Local News

Comments (13)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Boo Hoo Hoo do your time like a man !!!!

  2. Say it like it is says:

    At least they don’t get a third off like everyone else when they plead guilty.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    “Hi, we have reduced your life sentence to 30 years! Whut? I wuz plannin’ on gettiin’ mi a governor parole in 20 years! Well, STFU you ungrateful wretch!” I love justice… The governors letting people out so soon was a travesty and making it a precedent would be a second travesty. Thanks, Court of Appeal for being serious about crime, unlike these prior governors.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Unfairly treated???? They’ve got a damn cheek!! Hung they should have been. What about the loved ones of the victims they’ve murdered? Haven’t they been unfairly treated? At least these murderous animals are still alive and their families can still see them. Only thing they’ve lost is their liberty for part of their life. Whose fault is that I wonder. They made the choice to kill knowing full well the consequences……now get on with it you pack of whimps!!

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  5. Anonymous says:

    I tell you what’s unfair! Having your life taken away by a lunatic with a gun. That is unfair!!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Good. Their victims got a life sentence so should they.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    This is a gross injustice between the new and old sentencing schemes. Keep appealing.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    I understand these attorneys trying to get their clients released are doing their jobs but they also have to remember why they are locked and why the appeal courts disagree. I do not think that any of them have been rehabilitated and does not qualify to be let loose and to begin their reign of havoc and terror. Once they have been convicted of deliberately taking a life they should never have a free day again and our government need to stop spending our money on them for appeals. Once they take away another person’s human rights I believe they gave up their own.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    don’t want to be in prison for a life sentence? don’t take someone else’s life then! Cry babies!! You’re where you belong! Deal with it!!!!

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Is there a provision that allows the court on assessment at the end of sentence to determine if the person is still a risk to society?
    If they are deemed a risk they should be held for an indeterminate amount of time thereafter, until it can be comfortable with there reintroduction to society.

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    • Anonymous says:

      That is what the Conditional Law does byway of the Assessment at the end of the Tariff, release is not automatic, individuals must apply to the Conditional Release Board ( in effect a parole board) who investigate whether a person can be released, and even if decided they can be, they are only released on licence, with conditions, and can be recalled to serve again if they breach those conditions. Life means Life, but does not necessarily mean all of the Life sentence will be carried out in prison

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Ke p them in prison! Remember their victims!

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