Inmate’s jail time slashed by nine years on appeal

| 08/08/2012

Prison gate (232x300)_0.jpg(CNS): The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal has overturned a conviction for attempted murder and replaced it with the offence of wounding with intent in connection with a case that the police believed was an attempted ‘hit’ gone wrong.  Carlney Campbell was 18 when he was convicted of trying to kill José Morales in an elevator at the Treasure Island Resort on West Bay Road disguised as a police officer. He was sentenced to 15 years in jail last October but that prison term was significantly reduced on Friday to only six years, in line with the revised conviction, cutting nine years from the original sentence. The panel of senior judges found that there was no evidence of intent to kill and the judge should not have directed the jury accordingly.

However, during the appeal hearing the panel found that the jury had been properly directed in connection with the identity of the perpetrator and that they had sufficient evidence on which to arrive at the conclusion that Campbell, who is now 20 years old, was the attacker, even though they altered the offence.

The dispute over the intent to kill boiled down to one comment the victim claimed the man who stabbed him had said. When giving his evidence, Morales said that when he struggled with his attacker and for a moment gained the upper hand, has assailant had said, “I’m sorry, man. They paid me to do it,” and it was on this basis that the attempted murder charge was made.

The judges stated, however, that there was no evidence to explain what "it" was and the court had been wrong to assume it was murder. As a result, the judges overturned Campbell’s attempted murder conviction and substituted it with the lesser offence of wounding with intent, which was an alternative count that had been placed before the jury.

At the time of the trial last year it was revealed that the teenager had succeeded in stabbing Morales in the head. The prosecution believed Morales was the wrong man in a paid assassination attempt that had failed. Morales was trained in martial arts and he survived to tell the tale of how Campbell had tried to trick him by dressing up in blue police overalls.

Campbell had protested his innocence all along, stating that it was a case of mistaken identity, but the crown had claimed the real mistake in identity was that of the victim, since Morales swore under oath that he had no idea why he was attacked and had heard the comments from his assailant that he had been paid to commit the attack.  However, the police were unable to ascertain who the real intended victim had been and there was no other evidence that Campbell was attempting to execute a hit.

The crime took place in an elevator at Treasure Island Resort, where Morales lived. What he believed was a police officer in blue overalls walked past him as the elevator arrived, and Morales got in the lift. After the door closed it re-opened and the 'police officer', who turned out to be Campbell, walked in. Morales tried to walk out but Campbell told him that he should get back in and, thinking he was a real police officer, the victim asked if there was a problem.

Campbell forced Morales to turn around and face the wall as the elevator door closed. Campbell tried to tie Morales' hands behind his back with plastic string and produced a knife which he put in to his back.

As Morales was young, physically fit and trained in martial arts, he was able to turn suddenly and grab the knife by the blade, hit Campbell with his right elbow and knock him off balance. As they struggled, Morales overpowered Campbell and held the knife to his throat, which is when Campbell told him he had been paid to "do it".

Morales asked who paid him but got no answer and instead Campbell bit him on the arm forcing him to release his grip on the knife, at which point Campbell stabbed Morales in the head. Morales threw some punches but sustained a further stab wound near his ear. Eventually, Campbell dropped the knife and fled before Morales called 911 for help.

The Court of Appeal said the wounds sustained by Morales, despite being to the head and neck, were part of an unexpected and undirected struggle between the two men and were not evidence of an intention to kill but that Campbell stabbed in the easiest direction to get away from his victim, who was fighting back.

See related story: 15 years jail for AEC alumnus

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Comments (15)

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  1. madazhell says:

    Unbelievable.

  2. Anonymous says:

    What is going on?  The police do the correct police work, bring them to court, charge them, the judge sentences them and NOW every one is getting their sentences reduced??????

  3. Anonymous says:

    I tell ya..

    Human Rights — for SOME of us!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Do these lawyers have no conscience? What if it had ben their son, nephew or friend? Would they still have argued that it wasn't intent to kill? I'm sorry, you corner me in an elevator and press a knife into my back, you aren't inviting me to lunch. This is such bulls*!t. I won't be calling 911 or going to a lawyer, there's no justice in these courts.

    • SSM345 says:

      Can someone explain to me how 2 stab wounds to the head is not attempted murder?

      • Anonymous says:

        I completely agree, this is madness.  Not sure what is going on with these appeals, but it appears that every single sentence is being reduced.  In this case, I am astounded by this judge's decision, and think Mr. Henderson had it correct.

        However, I have seen the show "Cops" in the UK and it is almost laughable compared to "Cops" in the US/Canada.  That is part of the problem here (a big part of the problem).

        • Legal Seagull says:

          But then the US has several hundred percent more gun murders than the UK so what is your point?

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, more than happy to help.  In fact it's really not that tricky – the clue is in the title you see. 

        You have to be proved to be attempting to murder someone to be guilty of attempted murder. 

        It's a question of intent not anatomy.

    • Anonymous says:

      So if the man had died, it would have only been manslaughter, because the wounds were received in the ensuing struggle……wtf.

      • Anonymous says:

        No.  He would have been convicted of murder on the basis that he was intending to do really serious harm and the man died.

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously, having studied the facts and evidence and considered the detailed legal submissions, your view is better informed than that of the judges of the Court of Appeal.  By the way – where did you get your law degree?

      It's not about conscience, its about the defendant (and the prosecution) getting a fair trial.

      Don't worry about dialing 911 though – if you can't understand the basic concept of a lawyer defending his client whilst another one, representing the state, prosecutes, you probably aren't bright enough to use the telephone anyway.

      • Anonymous says:

        University of Liverpool actually; I then chose to NOT follow the path of Criminal Law because I CANNOT defend a man who is guilty of a theft, rape, murder, assault etc. I'm so happy for you that in your world, doing your job plays no part on your moral obligation to the rest of society, community and humanity and that evidently, all evidence can simply be weighed by the books. Where niggling technicalities are sufficient in letting these men go free because it is the LAW after all! Save your holier than thou speech for someone else. I don't need to study the facts, evidence and detailed legal submissions of this case to know. I've seen the blood on the hands of many of these young thugs, I've seen the money and drugs pass to younger and younger runners…child victims; their lives forever condemned, I've watched the police pull way too many sheets over way too many bodies and yes, stood watch outside George Town hospital waiting to hear if they will live or die, stood in the shadows at the funerals as the tears flow and mothers and sisters collapse in grief. Guilty and innocent alike have fallen and I must placate the fools who fight for the ones who pulled the trigger? There's a difference between defending your client and advocating the freedom of criminals. YOU sit behind your desk, YOU "legalize it" and sort through the loopholes to get them reduced sentences and "fair" trials, I for one, want no part of it.  

        • Tiny Briefs says:

          I saw a list of the top 30 law schools in the UK and Liverpool was not on it.

        • Anonymous says:

          "I don't need to study the facts, evidence and detailed legal submissions."  "I for one, want no part of [fair trials]".  Really?!  Really?? Are you really that dense? 

          I suppose, to be fair, the system you advocate has been tried before by, inter alia (that's lawyer latin – look it up):  A Hitler – Germany 1933 – 1945; J Stalin – USSR c.1922 – 1953; Pol Pot – Cambodia 1975 – 1979; S Hussein – Iraq 1979 – 2003 – are you seeing a pattern yet?

          If you had actually gone to law school, on day one of criminal law they would have taught you:

          1) A lawyer's professional obligation is to act to the best of his ability to defend a client regardless of his personal views.  This is because:

          2) It's the jury that decide guilt or innocence not you.

          And, if you had ever seen a criminal trial (or even possessed as much as a double digit IQ), you would have realised that very occassionally, just sometimes, the prosecution witnesses aren't telling the truth, and if the defence lawyer hadn't done his job properly an innocent person would be spending the rest of his/her life in jail.

          Must drop a line to the Liverpool lot – whatever they taught you it clearly wasn't law. Or any variety of higher education in the sense accepted by the rest of the civilised world.