Judge gentle on teen robbers

| 15/10/2010

(CNS): Full story — Three teenage girls who, armed with machetes, robbed a pizza restaurant, have been given a partially suspended two-year sentence, of which the judge says they must serve six months in jail. A teenage boy, who is under 18 and drove the car in the same robbery, has been given a two-year probation order and released from custody. The sentences were handed down this morning by Justice Smith, who noted that justice “not tempered with mercy would be draconian.” He indicated that the four teenagers presented a low risk of re-offending and that they had all shown remorse and contrition for their crime. The crown, however, made it clear it would appeal all the sentences.

The judge handed down his sentences following guilty pleas from all four teenagers, who were all seventeen at the time of the crime, which took place at Domino’s Pizza in Savannah in June of this year. The teens, Addie Haylock, Julissa Avila, Anastasia Watson and Ariel McLaughlin, admitted to planning and executing the robbery together and stealing $366 and two litre bottlesof soda. The three girls admitted they used machetes and that they frightened the staff during the incident.
In his sentencing, the judge noted that their guilty pleas and their cooperation with the police had to be viewed favourably. He said that as a general policy guilty pleas should be encouraged as they had several benefits to the community, including saving time and money for the court but also sparing witnesses from having to give evidence.
While he noted the prevalence of robberies on the island and the aggravating factors of this crime (the use of machetes and threatening words), Justice Smith noted that, besides from admitting their guilt at an early opportunity, none of them had previous convictions, no one was hurt in the incident and the teens had all apologised and demonstrated real remorse.
“It would seem that the risk of them re-offending is very, very, low,” the judge said. “The sentence must be one that will serve to engender respect for law and order, promote a peaceful and safe society and assist in rehabilitating the offenders.”
He said that he felt a partially suspended custodial sentence for the three girls was fair and had considered two years and suspending half of the sentence, but the judge said he was “persuaded by the letters to moderate the sentences as an act of mercy,” and therefore directed that they would serve only six months of the two year sentence with the rest being held in suspension. He explained that, once released, if they were to offend again during the eighteen month period they would be sent to jail. He also ordered that each of the defendants pay $90 in compensation.
The three young women will now serve a further six months from the day of sentencing (Friday 15 October) of their two year sentences as the judge chose not to include the time served in his sentence. Haylock, Avila, and Watson have been incarcerated at Fairbanks women’s prison since their arrest at the end of June and they will now remain there until next April, when they will be released.
Justice Smith went on to say that he was unable to offer a partially suspended sentence to McLaughlin as he is still under 18 and therefore the judge issued a two year probation order. He placed a number of restrictions on the young teen’s movements as well as various conditions and supervisions. Justice Smith then pointed out that should the teen re-offend during the period of suspension or break any of the order he would be sent to jail. He was also ordered to pay $90 compensation.
Following the sentencing, Elizabeth Lees, the prosecuting counsel who had asked for a minimum of two years in custody for the young offenders at the sentence hearing earlier this month, rose to give warning that the crown would be immediately appealing the sentence.
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  1. Anonymous says:

    And this sends a message to all non Caymanians who live, work, or visit Cayman. Be carefull.  The island is full of convicted repeat offenders walking free because of Caymans "Christian" attitudes tward their own kind.   The punishment for Threatening death or injury with a machette is given to the people and not the criminals.

  2. MER says:

    You know what is really sad, most of the posts on this page would pretty much "hang" these CHILDREN. And they are still pretty much children, yes they know right from wrong and that a burglary is definately WRONG. But what back-ground do these kids have that lead them to become who they are?

    It is just about proven that kids with strong parent backgrounds and a nice family setting tend to come up with less "issues," but unfortunately the majority of Cayman’s people are still tied to old beliefs. Nowadays mom and dad are both working and kids usually bring themselves up with the assistance of TV. Morals, ethics, manners etc are ALL LEARNED at home, parents cannot expect to send their kids to school to learn this stuff!

    They should go to school with these firmly planted, they are the gateway to higher and faster learning and are a foundation! I can bet that if we check it out, the majority of this clan are probably ones who grew up lacking these key factors to growing to become an asset to society!

    • Anonymous says:

      This wasn’t just a burglary!

    • Anonymous says:

      So what? We must not punish them because of their background? Where and when do we draw the line. As was pointed out, they were not caught shoplifting gum, they were caught with a potential deadly weapon!

      There are millions of children living in absolute poverty without any parent around. A lot of them never set foot in a school. Those children make every day the choice NOT to get a machete, enter a business, threaten its staff and rob the place.

      Yes, those robbers are children who unfortunately want to be grown up. Well, you want to be a grown up, you take the consquence for your action accordingly. They are lucky they didn’t get shot in self defense!

      As long as we keep making excuses for them, things won’t get any better.


    • Anonymous says:

      Whats even more sad is the innocent, hard working, victims of crime in Grand Cayman that have less rights then the criminals.  I was there 3 years and was robbed 4 times. Right now anyone who pays duty, fees,etc. is getting robbed everytime the Premeir goes off on one of his many first class 5 star trips, turns on a light in his house, or celebrates Christmas.  This is the Cayman society of today.

  3. Anthony Montana says:

    I agree that everyone makes mistakes.  But I have never robbed anyone. Or threatened anyone with a machette.  If I did, I would agree that I made a mistake and unfortunately I have to suffer the consequences.   

    These "good girls" if they are truly full of remorse can make good of their lives once they serve the appropriate sentence of two years minimum in jail!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Parents, use this to learn a lesson and stop to make excuses for your children.

    It starts at a young age.

    If your children forget their school stuff, don’t run home and get it for them. If they break their toys, don’t rush out and buy them another one. If they get in trouble with the teacher, don’t rush to school to sort it out for them. If they behve badly, don’t reward them by sending them to a birthday party. The lsit could go on and on, but you have to make your children learn the consequence for their actions or lack thereof.

    Sounds silly? Perhap! But that is the only way children will learn.

    As a society, we have failed our children because we do not want them to experience any hardships, we cuddle them, we overprotect them and we psycho analyze things to death. Cleary – it hasn’t benefited anyone……

  5. Anonymous says:

    We all make choices in life. Some are good, some are bad.

    There are people on this planet who grew up in absolute horrible situations (worse than what many of us can even imagine) but based on certain choices they made, they managed to turn the lifes around and went on the "right" path.

    Those girls made a choice that day. They chose to do something that was wrong, they could have just as easily chosen to sit at home and have their noses in their school books – now they have to pay the price for the choice they made that day.  They are fortunate that the prison here is not nearly as bad as it is in many other countries, and their families can come and see them every week.

    I know for the families this is a horrible, horrible experience, but be glad your children have been caught and are being dealt with now, rather than when things have gotten further out of control. Now there is still a chance for them to turn their lifes around.

    I hope they do learn from this – it will be another choice they have to make…..

    My suggestion is that they dedicate their times advocating for a juvenile detention and correction facility to be established in the Cayman Islands which is clearly badly needed. Who better to be the advocate for a cause than somebody who has been exposed to it.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What moronic behaviour – these excuses-for-citizens should be ashamed of their imbecilic "life-styles". Machetes, my God. They should be made to crawl on their knees through George Town the shame they have brought on Cayman. Shame on them! Shame on them!

  7. Anonymous says:

    How about giving them 100 hours of community service delivering pizzas on their bicycles so they know what their futures hold for them!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Cayman has no place for juveniles so judges have no choice except to give suspended sentence to youth offenders.

    Remember the former HRC (led by Sara Collins & Melanie McLaughlin) pointed that out to Government several times, including during constitution debate.

    As usual, Government refuses to address the problem. This has been going on for years.   In 2008, the former HRC pointed out that there had been  a series of cases with young children, even girls as young as 12 being processed through the courts and locked up. Minister Anthony Eden claimed they were looking at a juvenile detention facility in East End -but it never happened and everyone forgot about itsoon as the next hot topic arose.

    The former HRC raised issue again in Constitution talks -but PPM/UDP still did not want to deal with problem of juvenile offenders, so they amended the section to put off governments obligations to address the issue of juvenile detention until 4 years AFTER the bill of rights comes into effect (by which time, another government will be/is in power).

    Judges cannot order detention for these young kids to an adult prison system.  The chance to rehabilitate juvenile offenders gets less the older they are.   Northward has no juvenile counselling or education programme or facilities.  The adults will prey on and train the juveniles as lifetime career criminals for the rest of us to suffer with.

    So, until Cayman decides to address its juvenile detention needs, judges will have to give suspended sentencesand we will continue to  incarcerate young children including girls as young as 12 – with adults, with no effort to rehabilitate or reducate them – dooming them to a life of crime.

    The former HRC did everything it could to warn you. Unna memory is too short and convenient and you keep getting fooled by 2-bit politician hustlers. 

    PPM, UDP, National Team all the same – ignored gangs until problems boil over and now we reaping the social deliquency we sowed, trying to act too pious and holy to talk to our children about sex, child abuse, incest and violence.

  9. Civil Dialogue says:

    Is our judiciary becoming complacent and/or desensitized to the challenges that have plagued ours community; “Girls armed with machetes robbed a pizza restaurant” and given a partially suspended two-year sentence with a mere six months in jail and the teenage boy (under 18) that drove the car given a two-year probation order and released”. I am bewildered with the decisions of persons who are supposed to be highly educated and trained to enforce laws to protect law biding citizens. If we believe that being lenient to offenders is a deterrent, regrettably we are naive to the realities of our community.  To say that “justice not tempered with mercy would be draconian” is unfortunate because I believe it sends the wrong message to potential offenders. Isn’t JUSTICE done by properly administering the law? If the law provides for armed robbers to be released without punishment then I apologize for not knowing so. Is this a case where a judge gets caught up more in sympathy than in achieving justice for all? Personally I would never advocate individuals taking justice into their own hands BUT if our judiciary continues to be “merciful” to offenders of serious crimes then we may be trading on a very slippery slope.  This ruling is appalling.

  10. Anonymous says:

     The world  desensitized to violence. “Good” girls do not play with machetes. Parents as responsible as the girls. 

  11. Anonymous says:

     What a mess!!!!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Cayman is a Christian country???????

    These posts are clearly not Christian, they are full of hatred, selfishnes and hipocricy. These posts must make Satan feel very smug indeed.

    Yes, these girls have done a very bad thing and their "remorse" has more to do with being caught rather than being sorry for what they did.

    The only way to bring them over to the side of light is through love and nurturing which is probably lacking at their home. Who in this "Christian" country has the heart and generosity to take them in and do the very hard work that is necessary to reform them? Who has the guts to be a "real" Christian and open their hearts and homes to kids who have been disadvantaged in life, very often through no fault of their own (pre-natal alcohol syndrome for example)?

    Beatings make the beater feel good and only harden the beatee. Prison futher dehumanizes the inmates, creates bitter resentment and very often gives them good training in how to be a successful criminal when they get out. These are not solutions for the underlying root causes of criminality in a community.

    • Pauly Cicero says:

      I nominate you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Armed robbery of innocent civilians is already dehumanised behaviour, I would think. They deserve to know that actions have consequences, that they won’t be coddled when they are wrong. If they want to act like belligerent people, treat them as such. Maybe they’ll learn. 

  13. Anonymous says:

    If it was young men who did this would the sentence have been different?

    These idiots shouldn’t get a brake because they are women, and thats what this is really about.



  14. Anonymous says:

    I work with teenagers. They will be sitting together laughing about this. The system needs to really set a deterrant so teens will be sitting around saying that "no way would I be doing that s***!, did you hear how long they have to stay in jail".

    I am sorry that some may have to be the scapegoat for all the others, but the bar needs to be set and it needs to be set high. IMO, I do not believe this was their first time…maybe it was their first time they got caught.

  15. Scrooge McDuck says:

    I side with the magistrate on this one.  And, before anyone gets their knickers in a knot, I’ll tell you why.  Six months at that age can seem like a lifetime. With a two year sentence there is the possibility of releasing now- hardened people with hearts full of resentment and more learned criminal skills back into the community.  Remember: a prison can also be seen as a school.

  16. Anonymous says:

    In Kingwood Texas, four years ago, four teenaged girls, with clean records, committed a similar crime.  They were sent to prison for seven years!!!!  They also had pleaded guilty.  Six months is too lenient!!!!! Maybe the cow cod could have been used in this instance also.  I bet you they would walk a straight line after that!!!

  17. M says:

    I personally knew one of these girls who expressed remorsed for the crime before she was arrested. Her mother is going through alot of pain and suffering over the whole thing. I can’t imagine on this is causing a negative effect on her well-being. XXXX

    One night (and this was before her arrest), I attended a Church function and to my surprise I met this same girl there and she during the service went outside. Being one who likes to walk about during a service, spotted her as she exit the building to stoop down and cry. Curious and moved by her contrition, I stoop down beside her and I asked her what was wrong, does not God forgive the vilest of offenders. She did not say to me what she did, but she told me that she did something very very bad. In her own words, she said she did something "horrible." Whilst the minister was preaching and making altar calls, I concluded that this girl was sorry for what she had done. At that time, I didn’t know she was link to the Pizza robbery.

    But people on CNS… I can tell you, after a week or so when I found out of her arrest and that she was link to the robbery, I do understand Judge Smith’s decision – what it means by "justice tempered with mercy." Imagine if you had no mercy with justice, what a draconian society we would have.

    Young people make mistakes in life. I know I have done alot of stupid things just for the fun of it. I can relate. Alot of you bloggers here don’t realize what it is like to be young and IGNORANTLY make a big mistake in life, causing shame to your own family. We were all teenagers once.

    I certify my account is 100% truth – that I met this girl outside prior to her arrest during a night Church service, and hearing from her, she was sorry for what she did and wished she could have done better. In her own words with tears in her voice, she said, "I did something horrible." I remember that night clearly… and I can tell you that a person does not have to spend years in a prison cell to learn and have that strong desire to turn around their life.


  18. Anonymous says:

    Friday 21:17 – "Everyone makes mistakes…. these are good girls who got carried away after watching too many violent movies…". Are you serious???!! How pathetic! I don’t care if you are one of the girls themselves, a parent or another family member, that attempt to excuse their action is inexcusable!!

    Got carried away after watching movies?? What does that say about their judgement and connection to reality. If they are all that mentally weak, perhaps they should be sent to the Mental Health Ward for a few years immediately after their release in a couple months (six months jail time = about 2 months real time). What if every teenager or young person were to get "carried away" after watching movies? Murder and armed robbery would increase by a multitude. What if you were the Dominoes employee who was threatened? Get a life and stop condoning this type of criminal action, yes criminal!!

    I was a teenager once and I got "carried away" a few times, drank too much Night Train and puked my guts out. Didn’t rob anyone though!

  19. Anonymous says:

    God bless, I feel blessed and blah balh blah…self rigthious hiprocrit…Most peopel call these talk shows just complaining to hear there own voice or for other but they never have any solutions. I guess if you really speak your mind someone will recognize the voice and you will pursecuted.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is not the way to send a deterrent message to this obviously irresponsible and mal-adjusted foursome. It will be left to be seen if they will all learn a lesson from this or be back in the legal system within a few years. They would have received harsher sentences for possession of drugs. So, to them and their kind who don’t have any connection to reality it’s better to commit armed robbery.

    Six months at Fairbanks Summer Camp??? Really now!  "The risk of re-offending is very, very low"??  Perhaps the Honourable Justice is also qualified as a sociologist or in some other clinical discipline of determining human behaviour.

    In times like these, with the alarming rise in armed robberies, what was he thinking??!! 

  21. justice is done says:

    Everybody in their lives makes  mistakes. These are good girls who got carried away  after watching too many violent films on television,. The sentence is correct as it will punish them, and then allow them to make good with their lives.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you crazy?  "Good girls" don’t carry machetes and threaten innocent people who are trying to make an honest living.  They are criminals.

    • Anonymous says:

      What a load of crap!

      First don’t blame this on television, movies, or video games!

      Second – they aren’t good girls! I saw them the day before, a school day, getting drunk on the beach.

    • Alan Nivia says:

      I hope the crown appeals against sentence.

      "Mistake" – speeding is a mistake, shoplifting is a mistake.  Armed robbery should mean jail.  No questions.

      These are not "good girls" they are drains on society in the making (or already made).

    • Anonymous says:

      These are not "good girls" who made a bad choice.

      These are armed robbers who threatened "good people" with machetes so they could have some free pizza and some spending cash.

      I would have shown no mercy for these criminals.

      Armed robbery is a serious offence, people could have been injured or killed.

      The sentence should reflect the seriousness of theoffence, this one clearly does not.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, everybody has made mistakes, however, the seventeen of today is NOT the seventeen of yesterday.  They’re far from "girls" and are old enough to know better and it was a MAJOR screwup so they should face dire consequences for their actions and the judge should definately have given them a harsher sentence!  This won’t ruin their lives, but a slap on the wrist isn’t going to deter them and anyone else in future.

  22. Beachboi says:

    Okay so I am having a hard time and living from paycheck to paycheck.  So if I go and rob a business to get a little extra cash, and IF I get caught all I have to say is I’m sorry, I was’nt thinking, it was a stupid thing to do.  I have no previous convictions and it looks like the consequences wouldn’t be that bad.  It is unfortunate that the crown now has to spend more money to appeal this sentence.  Justice Smith certainly sent a message with this idiotic sentence.  All of these young thugs should have gotten the 2 years or more.  Armed robbery with a deadly weapon and they got 6 months.  It was obvious that they knew what they were doing and just to show how funny they thought it was they stole 2 bottles of soda.  Yeah they thought it was funny. 

    • So now the message is out there,


       what in the world is the message  this judge is sending out, ok, you got in a bind need some cash, go ahead & rob a bank, store, tell the world you are soory. We will be lenient with you,  NO, give due justice, the used a weapon sir

      Well your honor, you have just opened the door for more of this crap to happen, they already know that the laws are flimsy, so you just gave them justification for portraying their idiotic selfish ways. Why waste the police or courts system, why not allow them to terroise the communities? I appluad the Crown for appealing your ruling.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Great the Police and legal do a good job and get a conviction and the judge let’s them off with a slap on the wrist. This was a violent crime. Unfortunately the reply was soft. Wrong message that’s being sent to the criminals of this island.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree entirely!!. This same message is happening in the UK as well. Serious offenders get caught, prosecuted and found guilty, only for the Judge or Magistrate to give a far too lenient sentence. Over here they blame Prison overcrowding!!. So build more prisons and give sentences that give out a warning of what will happen to people who break the law. At the moment they know they will get 3 meals a day, TV, gymnasium etc. IF they actually get sent to prison, deterrent?, I don’t think so.

  24. Breadkind says:

    This menial sentence is no deterrent!!!

     Armed robbery is a very serious offence. Why has Justice Smith been so lenient with these young persons? We have other young people who stole from the institutions where they were employed. No weapons of choice were used to threaten, just plain dishonesty. And their sentences weren’t so lenient. I am appalled!!!

    There is something wrong with our judiciary system. But I tell you, if these same young people had been caught with 1 cocaine rock, they’d being seeing sentences far harsher than these. God forbid that they had a gun! They would have gotten 10 years each.

    So here’s the message people: Armed Robbery is best conducted with any weapon of choice other than a firearm!

    Post it, advertise it and last but not least call it in on Rooster!!

  25. Anonymous says:

    you want to run with the big dogs, you have to be prepared to take your licks!  bad on the judge!  these hooligans should be sent to jail for the maximum time allowed.  6 months is nothing compared to what they putthe workers through that day at dominos!  shame shame shame.

  26. Mark How says:

    I don’t expect the judge to lock them up for life but ALL of them should have had the six months in jail, what does this say to other young teens, "cry a lot when you get caught and you’ll get away with no jail time" and why is there so much crime in Cayman???    XXXXXX

  27. Anonymous says:

    The crown should appeal the sentences…unfortunately these kids need to be made an example of…a slap on the wrist is NO DETERENT!!!

  28. Breadkind says:

    This menial sentence is no deterrent!!!

    Armed robbery is a very serious offence. Why has Justice Smith been so lenient with these young persons?

    We have had other young people who have stolen from the institutions where they were employed. No weapons of choice were used to threaten, just plain dishonesty. And their sentences weren harsher.

    I am appalled!!!

    There is something wrong with our judicial system. But I tell you, if these same young people had been caught with 1 cocaine rock. They’d being seeing sentences far harsher than these. God forbid that they had a gun! They would have gotten 10 years each.

    So here’s the message people: Armed Robbery is best conducted with any weapon of choice other than a firearm!

    Post it, advertise it and last but not least call it in on Rooster!!

  29. Pending says:

    Great message to send to all the robbers out there, 6 months / suspended sentences for people who committ armed robbery.

    Is this some kind of joke?

    • tamara says:


      Question:  When you were in your young days or teenage years, did you not make any mistakes in life?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes tamara I’m sure that we all did…But for most of us they didn’t involve going into a business with a machete (a deadly weapon), threatening the hardworking honest staff who work there with violence and stealing cash.  That sort of "mistake" (if you could call it that) warrants a lengthy prison sentence by most peoples’ standards.  But apparently not in Cayman (at least not if you are a Caymanian teen….)

      • Anon says:

        We all did but, surely not the mistake of robbing with weapons.

      • Anonymous says:

         I’ve made mistakes in my young days. But I didn’t commit armed robbery. Perhaps you think if they kill someone next its just a ‘ mistake’. I wonder if your tune would change if it was you they robbed? They deserve the full punishment. It sends a wrong message to the people of Cayman, that our judicial system will do nothing with criminals. 

      • Anonymous says:

        It was not a ‘mistake’ that these teens brought machetes into an establishment and robbed them. That was pre-meditated! They had someone sitting outside in a get-a-way car! That was pre-meditated!Those are not mistakes! That is armed robbery! A crime not a mistake!

        They are just lucky that one of the employees or a customer did not have a heart attack from the stress of the event and die or they would be facing murder charges also. That would not be a mistake either! That would be a crime!

        Believe me, at 18, these adults knew exactly what they were doing. There were no ‘mistakes’ being made. They were committing a crime.

      • Pending says:

        Armed robbery is NO mistake.

        Not wearing your seatbelt, mistake.

        Caught speeding, mistake.

        Not wearing a condom, mistake.

        Nuff said.


  30. anon says:

    This was a chance to set a precedent – one that might act as deterent for other teenagers not to mention for these ones re- offending. but once again the Justice System here has failed.

    These ‘kids’ were armed with Machetes! that’s Armed Robbery- why are we so consistently seeing these violent criminals being treated with kid gloves.


  31. Anonymous says:

    I heard a woman on the talk radio show who called in complaining that the offenders were not granted bail. She referred to them as young ladies. She went on to further declare that if they rally wanted to humilate them, then have them work at Wendy’s.

    It was shocking to me that this person’s bizarre comments went unchallenged by the hosts. The suggest honest employment is a form of punishment and humilation shows a profound ignorance of the value of honest labor.

    • Mark How says:

      Tottally agree with you.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow.  But I can believe it. 

      I cannot stand to listen to those call in shows anymore due to the utter stupidity of some of the callers.  Sure it’s free speech and that’s great, but the things that some people come up with is amazing. 

      And yes, the hosts usually just sit there and thank the callers (no matter how stupid their comment) and repeat how blessed they are 42 times an hour.  What a waste of airtime.

    • Anonymous says:

      thats typical of local radio talk in shows….. uneducated locals are able to rant unabated by uneducated hosts…..

  32. Anonymous says:

    weak…..typical small town politricks at work here….