Woman freed in arson case

| 29/01/2013

explo.jpg(CNS): A fifty-year-old woman who had admitted throwing a propane gas canister through the window of a property, which then exploded, was found not guilty of arson by a jury on Tuesday. Lita Chollette Davis was accused of deliberately and recklessly damaging the apartment where she lived with her boyfriend in Fig Close in West Bay in October 2011. However, she denied that she intended to cause the destruction, claiming that she did not expect the tank, which she threw in a fit of temper, would explode. Edward Henry was inside the property when it did, however, explode in the early hours of the morning, destroying the apartment, damaging a police car and causing Henry serious injury.

Henry was hospitalized for more than two weeks and treated for serious flash burns, which he had received in the explosion when he was thrown from his apartment into the yard. The police car was damaged as RCIPS officers had arrived on the scene almost at the same time that the property exploded, having received a report of the altercation from Henry sometime earlier.

The defendant did not give evidence during the trial but she told the police after her arrest that she had made two attempts to throw the gas tank inside the house. She had stated that this was in an effort to get her boyfriend to come outside and talk with her after he had locked her out of the home they shared following an argument they were having that evening, during which she had received a bloody nose and a black eye.

The jury heard that both the defendant and the victim had a tumultuous relationship and had been drinking that night before they began to argue. The chief justice, who was presiding over the trial, had directedthe jury that the case hung on the defendant’s state of mind at the time but that self-induced intoxication was not a defence. Although she had admitted being responsible for the gas ending up inside the property, the question the jurors had to decide was whether she deliberately meant to cause the damage and whether or not she was aware of the dangers associated with throwing a gas tank into a house.

Davis told police in an interview shortly after the explosion that she had no idea that when she hauled the propane gas tank from the regulator outside the property into the home it would blow up. She said her intention was to have Henry come outside. She did not mean to cause anyone harm or to cause any damage and had never imagined that the tank of highly flammable liquid which the couple used for cooking would explode. Davis said that she believed by throwing the tank into the apartment then Henry would come outside.

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie took some two hours to sum up the details of the case and direct the jury on the law and the questions they had to decide on, before sending them to deliberate on their verdict. The six women and one man returned after just over two hours with their not guilty verdict.

Davis, who is a foreign national and had received the assistance of an interpreter throughout the case, wept quietly when the verdict was delivered before the chief justice discharged her.

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Category: Crime

Comments (41)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The recent case of the man who tried to burn the condo and the woman – he's in jail for years.. and So should this clown of a female be locked away!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    The difference here was that she was a woman not a man..Had she been a man, her a$$ would be in Northward now..

    The world is like this not just Cayman…

    • Anonymous says:

      But what a woman!!! Have you ever tried to lift one of those damn things, never mind throw it!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    She should have been convicted for criminal negligence then.This is $&%$^* hysterical.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Only in Cayman!

    I swear the laws of common sense don’t apply in Cayman, these judgements are so off color!

    It’s like this place is an alternate universe..!

    • Anonymous says:

      Not to be a downer here, but why has nobody questioned the premise that the propane tank "exploded?" Those tanks are designed to take a far greater beating than being tossed through a window. How is it that the prosecution never bothered to examine that one of the key points to the case is nearly physically impossible? The only way in which that tank may have been able to explode, and even then we're talking a nearly non-existent probability, would be if it were purposefully tampered with to make it more likely to rupture.

      If the prosecution were to have removed that event, that everyone still seems to be taking as true, one of the only other possibilities would be that the explosion was caused through a different method. One way would be tampering with the valve of the tank to remove the safety feature that doesn't allow it to release propane without being connected to a system (which would imply intent and therefore she'd be guilty of arson as charged). Boggles my mind – not only that due diligence wasn't carried forward by the prosecution, but that so far nobody seems to understand how stringent safety standards are for pressurized tanks (be they for propane, dive tanks, etc). If these things could just explode through being violently jostled or thrown, there would be a hell of a lot more accidents and damage. Let's show some common sense people!

  5. Whodatis says:

    Good ol' sexual equality … ain't it just grand!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Which report are you reading? Just where does it say that she got off because she was a woman. She got off (whether we think stupidly or not) because she 'didn't intend' it to explode. Your post is sexist pure and simple with no basis in the reported story. It has no place on a forum and I would ask that CNS delete it accordingly

      • Whodatis says:


        (You make me laugh.)


      • Annoyed says:

        Let me ask you this, and ask CNS to remove it if you feel it being unfair also. 

        I am a male asking this question, so I want to clarify that straight away, and judging by your comment, I'm guessing you are female. For arguements sake, lets say you are male. I hold no grudge by either sex, just wanting justice here for one and all. My apologies if you are male. 

        If I were a male/female and I walked up to you, being a male/female either, and shot you in the leg/arm/chest. Or better yet, I shot your son/daughter. Now, the reason I approached them was to scare them because they were harrassing my child. I NEVER intended on the gun going off, it 'JUST HAPPENED'. 

        What do you think should happen to me? You think I should get off because I said I had never intended to shoot them? I just wanted to scare them. Put some fear in them to leave my child alone. 

        Now, let me ask you this also, "Would you be happy to see me walk out of that court a free man/woman next to you after shooting your child? 

        Do not tell me it is any different. Whether it be a gun, knife, baseball bat, explosive tank, rock/concrete block, machete. All of the above are objects meant to do harm if used by that means.

        It does not matter if you then say it was premeditated, because it wasn't. I, like it says, NEVE intended on shooting them, only scare them. This is where the problem lies. 

        It is the justice system that is failing us here. We need to take a harder approach. This woman, or man for that matter, should not have walked free. The only leg that her lawyer should have used was that it was not premeditated. 

        Now, don't get me wrong, I don't know the fullstory, and believe that if he was beating her, then she has some sort of reasoning to take him to court. But it is stated that she threw the tank inside the house to him, meaning she was outside and him inside. If she was in fear of her life, then she should have run. Throwing that inside the house does not give you justice to what he did to you, if he did. The courts will always tell you not to take the law into your own hands, and thats where I will leave it.


        Concerned citizen


        • Anonymous says:

          I am confused. I think everyone agrees that this was a dumb decision but the post to which you were replying challenged whether the sex of the accused played a factor in the decision. That seems an entirely different point?

    • Diogenes says:

      Surely it's the UK's fault, Whodatis?  Imposing their wacky jusice system on us wthout acknowledgment of its many failings.

    • Anonymous says:

      Actually this is another one of those rare occasions where I concur with Whodatis.  If this were a man there's no way he would have gotten off like this.  Regardless of who it is, surely even a child realises that throwing a propane tank risks explosion and subsequent damage and injury.  This verdict is simply atrocious and I don't blame the victim for being upset.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Apparently ignorance IS an excuse to the law!

    • Anonymous says:

      The ignorance I am afraid is yours.  You simply do not understand that the offence requires the prosecution to demonstrate intent – if she did not intend to do any harm at all (the scale of the harm is not the issue) no matter how stupid an assumption that might be, then the offence has not been proven.  Its not the judges fault, although arguably the prosecution mght have argued some alternative charges or done a better job in demonstrating that it is not reasonable to assume that there won't be the risk of an explosion if you chuck a gas cylinder through a window, or that a reasonable person would have turned the valve off first! Or of course you can decide its the jury's fault for either believeing her or deliberately ignoring the possibility that there was intent.  However the law is the same here as it is in the UK – you cannot say that Cayman law or the judiciary are difficient – its either tha you have a very stupid defendant who credibly didnt understand that a gas cylinder ma explode,  a jury determied not to find her guilty, or a prosecution that failed to reach the evidentil threshold necessary.  

  7. Anonymous says:

    Clearly you all do not understand what the law requires and what needs to be PROVEN in order for a conviction. Perhaps a law degree is in order? LOL … look it up folks! Mens rea and actus reas! One is not more important than the other – but they BOTH have to be proven. Clearly a jury of her peers did not find the DPP did that.

    What you all should be going on about is how the DPP’s office can lose so many cases and not ever held accountable. That would be a worthwhile discussion!

    • Anonymous says:

      Last time I heard it did not matter if you expected the exact harm you caused, only whether you intended to come some degree of harm

      • Anonymous says:

        Not just "some degree" – the offence will tell you what is required to be proven and years of case law have interpreted exactly what that means. Wish you guys would speak from an informed position instead of just throwing shit on paper and seeing if it sticks!

      • Anonymous says:

        In which case try reading. Quote
        “She said her intention was to have Henry come outside. She did not mean to cause anyone harm or to cause any damage”
        If that statement was acepted then by your own construct (which may or may not be right) then she was not guilty!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        There is such a thing as inferred intent, see the case of Woollin, if you are so reckless to the possible outcome of your actions then intent can be inferred. But that I think was setting fire to a home thought to be empty. Perhaps in this case even the intent could not be inferred….. Would always be a high threshold test.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yep – but she says she didnt expect any harm (presumably other than the broken window), and if the jury buys that, then there is no mens rea.  Not that I agree with the outcome, but don't argue with the law without actually reading the discussion and thinking. 

  8. Anonymous says:

    The jury system is our friend.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To the first 4 comments…


    Your posts have been formed using reason, logic and accountability.


    In this case the leagal system apparently did not take these 3 things into consideration.

  10. Anonymous says:

    "A fifty-year-old woman who had admitted throwing a propane gas canister through the window of a property, which then exploded, was found not guilty of arson by a jury on Tuesday – This pretty much sums up the judicial system in the Cayman Islands.


    Who cares if she didnt expect it to explode. Serves you right for overreacting. If i shoot somebody and they die, i get charged for murder whether i expected them to die or not.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, and you can throw a knife at someone and then act stunned when you actually manage to hit them………

    • SSM345 says:

      Admit shooting someone and deny intention to kill and you get done for manslaughter which is about 3yrs in prison or kill them with your car while intoxicated and you get a year in HMP at the most. If the man had died after the explosion she would have been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. GBH would not have stuck as she had no intention to harm him.
      INTENTION was the key here people.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I'm speechless…..so intent is more important than the act? I've got my vehicular manslaughter while drunk driving defense ready…

    • Anonymous says:

      Me too, and my list of people whom are going to suffer accidents where they were not meant to get hurt..

    • Anonymous says:

      In Cayman 80 percent of the people who have killed while drunk driving have got off. Those that didnt got a year at the most in prison and they wonder why people drink drive down here……

    • Anonymous says:

      Reply to Speechless…

      Right.  Why did they charge her with 'intent ' ?

      Her intent should not enter in to this at all. Just a way to get her off scot free!!

      The fact is she caused a man serious injury, caused damage to property and caused

      a fire.  Why wasn't she charged with the results of her actions?

      Not a good precedent to set for the future…..



  12. Castor says:

    Interesting, it would appear that it is acceptable and considered normal behavior to pitch gas bottles trhrough windows, blow up the house, damage a police car and hospitalize someone for two weeks with flash burns. Maybe the incorrect charges were laid by the Crown? By the way I have absolutely no sympathy for the woman beater. It would also be advisable to avoid Ms Davis at all costs.

  13. Anonymous says:


    she "had admitted throwing a propane gas canister through the window of a property,"

    this is not arson? was she to be charged something else then?

    i am totally confused. 

  14. Anonymous says:

    So if I hit someone with a big stick and that person dies I suppose I’m not a murderer if I say that I didn’t think the person would die? I thought it would only give him a bump on his head. Absurd! Where is the justice in this verdict?

    • SSM345 says:

      You would be done for manslaughter depending on your statement to the police. Intention to kill or harm is the key; mens rea.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yep…look up ‘manslaughter’.

  15. Gone fishninn says:

    Wow really ? I always thought that ignorance in the Courts was not a valid excuse. Sorry sir I did’nt mean to smoke by the fuel truck, honest I didn’t know it could blow up. That’s a good one for us to swallow don’t you think. Make’s you wonder.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Throwing a pressurised tank not thinking it could explode is like throwing a knife it thinking it could stab someone …

    • Anonymous says:

      She had a good lawyer.

    • Anonymous says:

      So being stupid is now an officially sanctioned defence in Cayman. Sorry, when I swung my machete at the guy's head, I thought it would only give him a bruise. Sorry, when I killed that pedestrian after flooring the gas pedal I thought I was hitting the brakes. And so on…