Drug smuggling witness attacked in jail

| 22/06/2022 | 32 Comments
Cayman News Service
Drug canoe found at Spotts Beach, 21 May 2020

(CNS): Andrew Beckford (42) was attacked in prison on Monday by the man he had given evidence against in a drug and guns smuggling case. However, at his sentencing hearing, Justice Cheryll Richards reduced the ten-year mandatory sentence Beckford was facing to just 30 months due to exceptional circumstances, which means he will soon be returning to his native Jamaica.

In May 2020, Beckford turned himself in after he was shipwrecked at Spotts in a canoe that had 60lbs of ganja on board. Following his arrest but before he learned that there were two handguns and ammunition on board as well as ganja, he admitted to drug smuggling and gave police the details of his co-defendant, Dencle Vic Barnes. He told the police that he had never agreed to smuggle the ganja all the way to Cayman and was meant to have transferred the drugs to another boat.

Beckford cooperated with the authorities throughout the case, and although he was consistently threatened by Barnes and his associates in HMP Northward, he gave evidence against him during his trial last month. This secured the conviction of a man described by Beckford’s attorney, Crister Brady, as a major player in local drug trafficking.

Shortly after Barnes was sentenced to 14 years for his part in the crime, he attacked Beckford because he had testified against him. Fortunately, several prison officers prevented Barnes from inflicting serious injury. However, because of the assault and two years of consistent threats, as well as Beckford’s full assistance in the case, the judge dramatically reduced the prison time he should have served.

Although Beckford had always denied having had any knowledge of the guns, he was nevertheless convicted of possession of an unlicensed firearm last year because it was part of a joint enterprise. As a result, he was facing a mandatory minimum term of a decade behind bars.

But during the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Justice Cheryll Richards said that, given Beckford’s level of cooperation, she was satisfied that there were exceptional circumstances and she was able to discount the usual sentence for possession of unlicensed guns. She said the defendant had turned himself in, had immediately given an account about what had happened, which has never changed, and agreed to give evidence.

Justice Richards said that the evidence had produced a major conviction, which prosecutors had said would not have happened without Beckford’s assistance. Despite having no family support and being in a strange jurisdiction, as well as facing continuous threats to his life from Barnes and other inmates sympathetic to Barnes, he still gave evidence, she said.

The judge noted that on Monday those threats escalated when Barnes attacked him. Even the prosecutor had said it would be challenging to protect Beckford, given Barnes’ willingness to assault him in front of guards and the number of other inmates prepared to do his bidding.

With no previous convictions or aggravating circumstances, Justice Richards used her discretion to cut Beckford’s jail time by 75%, the high end of the guidelines relating to cooperative witnesses. Beckford was given several other sentences in relation to the ganja and his illegal landing, but the judge said they should all run concurrently.

Since Beckford has already served around 24 months, he is expected to be released and deported in the coming days.


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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (32)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    @7.26 “Cayman which makes it so difficult for other (law-abiding) ex-pats to live and work there”? Really, with 26,000 on work permits you might want to check your source of info.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    This is why people don’t come forward with information. The stupid clowns can’t even protect informants from the same people they testified against while in custody. Cayman will never be anything more than an overrated 3rd world country that runs back to momma UK when it poops itself. 😄

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  3. Anonymous says:

    How in God’s name does a place like Cayman which makes it so difficult for other (law-abiding) ex-pats to live and work there, come to a state where even the prison seems to be run by Jamaican criminals?

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    • Anonymous says:

      But Barnes is Caymanian…

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      • Anonymous says:

        Any relation to the multiple persons with that last name granted status by Cabinet? You want to go there? Let’s do that then. Was he the subject of an acknowledgement, grant, continuation….? Since you know so much, perhaps you might fill in some gaps?

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    • Anonymous says:

      It was the Jamaican who was being attacked! Or are you referring to the Prison Officers?

    • Anonymous says:

      @7.26 “Cayman which makes it so difficult for other (law-abiding) ex-pats to live and work there”? Really, with 26,000 on work permits you might want to check your source of info.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    What does mandatory sentencing mean? If you do the crime then you do the time. There are other ways to deal with threats made by inmates. It happens every day.

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    • Anon says:

      You are living in a dream world Bubba!

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    • Anonymous says:

      You understand that without this guys testimony Barnes would be on the street, right? And if the guy hadn’t handed himself in, he would have probably skated as well? This way we have a bad as local safely locked up , the informer has served some time but is then deported so we don’t have to pay $60k a year to keep him in prison, and for once we don’t have a witness ending up dead so we reduce the disincentive for people to testify. Win win.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    We need a true maximum security facility for the hardcore idiots. Give them something to really fear, rather than the social club for the terminally stupid that they seem to have now.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    He will be back on work permit soon.

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    • Anonymous says:

      He wasn’t here on a work permit in the first place idiot. And even our dumb as a bunch of rocks immigration team should work out he has a criminal record.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Sounds about right, but what’s the deal with the prison. Is solitary no longer a thing?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Too many prisoners. There a so many informants, pedophiles and different types of people that take up the solitary. Murderers have to stay in maximum at least 6 years before going to general population.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Good outcome as that’s about half a million we’ll save in imprisonment costs for him, but this could all be avoided if Julianna actually delivers what she SWORE she’d give if elected – which is local production of cannabis. Elvis got a lot of votes running on No Weed No Vote and she evidently saw the competition with this.

    I already pay doctor’s express to import it and prescribe it to me, let me grow the d@%# plant myself in my garage without breaking a law na?! It’s expensive as is.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Good grief, as if there’s not enough carnage on your roads, you want more people to have access to drugs!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Medicine, get it right. It’s legal for medicinal purposes.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Shall we ban over the counter sleeping meds too then?

        A judge who served in Cayman ran off the road and blamed it on Zzquil – why the double standard?

        Cannabis is no where as near as dangerous to drive on than alcohol – I actually drive slower and less aggressive.

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        • Anonymous says:

          You drive slower because you are impaired and know you could make a mistake. Sober is the only acceptable state to drive.

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          • Anonymous says:

            Nah, I just feel like being a nicer human being instead of rushing on this little rock.

            But hey, let’s continue to make grandma drive at 83 with zero requirements to prove that their vision isn’t impaired or aren’t at high risk of having a medical emergency and driving straight into a crowd.

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        • Anonymous says:

          And your scientific evidence of that is…?

        • Anonymous says:

          You’re effectively arguing that two wrongs make a right there.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe you already grow in your garage too 🤔

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a BS fantasy argument. Anyone can already grow for personal use with a Rx and permission right now. The recreational want consumer is not in the same league as doctor prescribed medicinal patient, and neither consumer category does anything to reform determined Jamaican ganja hegemony, or the criminal participation in active well-diversified, armed, and politically protected smuggling economies. Grow all you want, regional narco gangs will continue to meddle in our domestic stability until they are intercepted and blocked with a well-armed navy, willing to return fire and mortally sink these intruders.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Lol, I’m the one with the fantasy argument?

        Tell me, how much demand is there to import mangoes here during these wonderful mango seasons?

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Richards is a great judge.

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  10. Anonymous says:

    Prisoners need to be able to be kept as safe as possible. This is whole story is one of abject failure by our authorities. Has Barnes even been charged for the attack? Do we get to add another decade to his sentence? If not, why not?

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