Northward inmate on trial for murder

| 24/11/2009

(CNS): The trial of a serving prisoner accused of the murder of Sabrina Schirn (left) opens in Cayman’s Grand Court One this morning (Tuesday 24 November). Randy Martin (38), who has pleaded not guilty to the crime, was charged with the murder of the 21-year old woman in April of this year, following the discovery of Schirn’s body in High Rock, East End in March.  Martin, who is already serving a seven year prison sentence at HMP Northward, was one of a number of inmates allowed to work on the prison farm, which is located in the vicinity of where the body was found. The trial is scheduled to last three weeks.

Following the murder, Wilderness Farm, the prison agricultural facility where inmates routinely worked outside of the prison, has been closed and a recent report recommended that it should not re-open.

Schirn was reported missing to the RCIPS on 12 March and her body was found in bush land off High Rock Road by her friends and family on the 17 March. A local farmer had discovered, less than a mile away, the car she had last been seen driving a few days before. The case caused considerable controversy in the local community, which included criticism of the local police and the prison service. Speculation that a prisoner on the work release programme at the Wilderness Farm had committed the murder began even before Schirn’s body was discovered. The family and friends of the murdered girl have been vociferous in their condemnation of the way the investigation was handled.

Following the charges against Martin, Commissioner of Corrections and Rehabilitation William Rattray denied that the Cayman Islands Prison Service (HMCIPS) was negligent and that before any prisoner can work outside the secure perimeter of HMP Northward a thorough security risk assessment is undertaken. Defending the prison policy to allow inmates to work in the community, he said that the risk assessment was the most sophisticated available. “HMCIPS conducted an international review of available security risk assessment instruments and settled on the instrument currently used. It is impossible to find, let alonecreate, a risk assessment instrument that can possibly predict, with 100% certainty, human behaviour,” he said at a press briefing in May.

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