Life sentences challenged

| 12/11/2013

CNS): A legal application that could see the end of mandatory life sentences in the Cayman Islands for those convicted of murder has been filed in the Grand Court. Ever since the Bill of Rights came into effect last November, experts have been expecting that a legal challenge will come regarding the concept that 'life' means life without the possibility of parole. The Human Rights Commission has indicated that not offering ‘lifers’ the chance of ever being released on licence falls foul of the rights now enshrined in the constitution. The European Court of Human Rights has also ruled that ‘whole life orders’ are incompatible with that Bill of Rights article 3, which is exactly the same as the local article relating to inhumane or degrading punishment, so it is unlikely the practice will survive this challenge.

The petition has been filed by local attorney’s Samson & McGrath on behalf of Tareek Ricketts (22), who was recently convicted of the murder of Jackson Rainford last December and was immediately handed a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.

If successful, the petition will be relevant not just to Ricketts, who will then seek a tariff, but to the other 17 prisoners who are facing life sentences.

Ricketts is seeking an order from the court that section 182 of the penal code, which calls for the mandatory life sentence, is incompatible with Article 3 of the Bill of Rights and that the sentence is therefore unlawful.

If successful, the legal application will pave the way for judges to begin setting tariffs for life sentences. In other words, any judge presiding over a sentencing hearing following a guilty verdict in a murder case will be able to indicate the number of years a convicted killer would serve before he is eligible for parole. This does not mean the prisoner would automatically be released on licence after that period but it will open the window of opportunity.

With the Human Rights Commission having already indicated that the mandatory life sentence is unlikely to survive the new human rights regime in Cayman and a clear indication by the European Court that whole life orders are incompatible, there are high expectations that this petition is likely to succeed.

As a result, most of the currently serving lifers will be seeking a tariff for their sentences, which could see at least three prisoners looking at an immediate parole hearing as they have been in prison for more than 25 years. Life tariffs can differ from as short as 15 years to as long as thirty in other jurisdictions, depending on the circumstances of the crime, but the decision to release a prisoner will be down to the parole board.

At present, the only way that a prisoner serving a life sentence can be released on license is at the discretion of the governor under the office’s special powers, as was the recent case with Blandford Dixon, who has been released from Northward and is now on licence.

The petition was filed on 31 October but a hearing date has not yet been fixed.

See legalpetition below.

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  1. Knot S Smart says:

    In the coming years those Human Rights Liberals will say that any imprisonment of criminals is against the concept of human rights…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Support for the death penalty is inversely proportional to a) educational attainment and b) the extent of personal professional involvement with the criminal justice system.

    • Anonymous says:

      Is the death penalty applicable to folks who ruthlessly butcher the English language?

  3. Anonymous says:

    The law is so unevenly applied where some get off again and again and others are thrown in jail immediately. It still comes down to who do you know or who is your relative?  Until this changes oversight is needed.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Imagine for a second that your spouse is gravely ill. Their life is miserable. Every waking moment is full of pain. Loving them dearly, you resolve to put them out of their misery (maybe even with their agreement). So, one morning, you give them more of their pain-relief pills than you should. They fall asleep, and never wake up.


    That's murder. But are you seriously saying that the person who kills in those circumstances is as morally cuplable as a serial killer (to take an equally extreme example)? Of course not.


    By removing mandatory life sentences and replacing them with a tariff system, where the judge can set a minimum term to be served, you would be able to deal appropriately with the many different types of murder. So, in the worst case, a long tariff can be fixed. In others, a shorter one.

    • Anonymous says:

      Murder is still murder. Who are you to justify murder? Since when does one human have the right to take another's life outside of self defense?

      • Truthseeker says:

        In my opinion (and actually, I think to be the case, for many doctors and other health care workers) in the circumstance the poster outlined above. Compassion is always compassion, even though "murder" as legally defined may not always equate to murder in the moraly  accepted sense. Would you allow your mother, sister, spouse to scream for hours in agony dying in a totally incurable circumstance while you held the power to ease them out of their misery? If so,then I am glad that I do not know you!  



  5. Anonymous says:

    To a certain extent I agree however with the caveat that the death penalty be reinstated.  Life sentences are inhumane to the citizens that have to support these murderers and rapists who only seem to recognize the value and rights of their lives and not that of their victoms. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    So Steve Manderson might stan a chance now. He keep saying that he is innocent and so does the Public. An innocent man that was in prison for over 30 years has recently been released. Some family member was honest enough to admit that another family member had lied on him. Its tuff to be incarcerated innocently.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the problem we have with what we call justice. Any criminal can walk into court and swear his lie is the truth and thereby claim the life of an innocent human being.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Human Rights, sounds more like you are referring to criminal rights?  What about Victim Rights?  I call on government to have that law amended immediately to make it absolutely clear that not only does every person have a right to life, but anyone who takes that right away must spend the rest of their natural life in prison.  Lawyers should never be made to make a mockery of the system with all sorts of twisted arguments that later become precedents.  We have enough problems with these want to be gangsters now and if they think they can take someone's life and only do a short time in prison for it, then we are only ruining society and confusing the public by having them calling for the Police Commissioner to resign or stop the criminals from killing others.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Why is it that people are so concerned about the rights of the scum bags that had absolutely no regard for the rights of the people they killed?! I firmly believe that if a person infringes on the human rights of others then he should have his human rights infringed upon.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Too bad that when so many peddled human rights as if it was going to be a panacea for our ills, they were never really honest about how dangerous and detrimental it has been in the UK. You all horse traded on our rights for self glory.  Too bad for us we bought into it. Time to pay the piper. It will cost us millions and make victims out of us all.

  10. Anonymous says:

    To forgive is Divine…by the looks of the responses here it seems Divinity is very seriously lacking in humanity.

    • Diogenes says:

      Isn't it that humanity is seriously lacking in divinity – rather the point of the original quote.  Posters' religious beliefs are clearly more Old Testament than New.  

    • Hoping for better days says:

      Explain how someone justly forgives a CRIMINAL for KILLING their loved one etc.????

      Most of these men that commit these crimes don't feel a bit of remorse or compassion for what they have done to end up behind bars. Most of them don't have feelings because they were treated like objects when they were growing up so in turn they have learned to treat others the same. You are wrong to think they can be treated with the same respect as others in society. Most are a menace to society and will never be anything else.

      You say divinity is lacking in humanity but I say humility and education is what is lacking.

      How many educated people end up in HMP?

      If you take someones life you should have to sit in prison for the remainder of yours to think about what you have done. Afterall, nothing you say or do will ever bring them back. YOU never gave them life, but YOU took it away…The penalty for murder should be life in prison and it should extend to isolate you from all others in there.




      • Anonymous says:

        God forgave the criminals that hung bis son on the cross.

        • Hoping for better days says:

          Really? You want to go there. OK…….


          Religion and Politics do not mix. Also, God knew he would sacrficie his only son for the sins of all mankind. So, where you get off comparing God's forgiveness and that of a human being who is born into sin; makes NO sense. You clearly have a relative in prison, probably for a very loooong time. I understand your feelings but I do not feel sorry for any one of them that end up there. NONE.

          WE are all responsible for our actions and such we should not teach our children that their wrongs are always right. WRONG IS WRONG.

          Look back at any criminal's history record and see if they do not all start as petty theives, simple crimes and eventually escalating to more serious crimes such as murder etc.

          Here is my simple point on forgiveness: If any human being does anything wrong it is for that human being to seek forgiveness from GOD. You may seek forgiveness from someone you have hurt etc but ultimately your divine forgiveness comes from GOD.






          • Anonymous says:

            Religion and politics, neither of which i made any reference whatsoever to in my comment, indeed should not mix as demonstrated so aptly by our last premier. God and what we refer to as our legal system, should very much indeed mix however. Praise be to almighty God, and in spite of a dwindling minority of geniouses of your calibre, the intelligent world is indeed making great and wonderful strides in that direction.

    • Anonymous says:

      You need your head examined…why should someone forgive someone who took their loved one away in cold blood???? I don't think so…they should stay in jail for life

      • Anonymous says:

        You need your head examined…why should someone NOT forgive someone who took their loved one away in cold blood????

  11. Anonymous says:

    The law is clear on this and Cayman is not compliant. 

  12. Anonymous says:

    Spare the rod….spoil the child…….guilty persons deserve the wrath of a merciless court.

    We must be sure not to persecute the honest hardworking and forgive those who persecute others in society.

  13. Anonymous says:

    What a world we live in. And if it isn't bad enough, we are following these countries that have this twisted way of skewing rational thinking. While I do understand that being under the UK does not afford us certain rights to choose our own path, I wish our politicians would open their mouths on this issue. The only time we ever hear any sense coming out of their mouths is the time leading up to elections. After that, silence and actions contrary to what they promised.  

  14. A Pastafarian says:

    Matthew 5:38:   An eye for an eye…… A tooth for a tooth.

    I am against long-term imprisonment for several reasons, the main one being that the expense of housing, feeding and providing care for murderers in the Caymans is a terrible, if not illegal expense for law-abiding citizens.  Do you have any idea what it costs to care for a prisoner in our prison?  Execution is approriate for murder.  As an extra benefit, it is 100% effective in stopping  repeat offenders.  In fact, if execution were carried out for other heinous crimes, like rape etc, I can assure you the crime rate would drop!  What we need are more and faster executions, not kow-towing to criminals!

    • Dubious says:

      You are quite right to quote the Bible, after all religion has been responsible for more death and suffering in the world than anything else over the centuries. <p>Do you really want the power of sentencing execution in the hands of a Cayman Court, or worse still a local jury?  <p> The current system, flawed though it may be, attempts to dispense justice, not revenge. If you ever found yourself on a murder charge here you'd agree with the lack of a death penalty.

      • Anonymous says:

        Wrong! More wars have been fought over resources (water, property, oil, gold etc) than religion in history. Religion has been highjacked along the way and used as a tool but has not been the root cause of the majority of history's wars.

        The root cause has primarily been, and will continue to be, greed.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are misquoting Matt. 5:38. In context this reads: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you".

      However, I don't think this has anything to do with capital punishment which is not about personal forgiveness.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thou shalt not kill. Exodus 20:13. – conflicting isn't it!

  15. Capt. Obvious says:

    Obviously, at a time when crime is on the rise in Cayman and criminals are becoming more brazen the last thing we need is to reduce the consequences of committing a crime.

    I sincerely hope that our legislators and judiciary are not "tone deaf" and dismiss this. Obviously, there would be little support in the population for this.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is Cayman we are talking about. Rational thinking is gone MIA, like the Rolling Calf on the Brac.

  16. Anonymous says:

    This should be a relatively formula!!! When the person murdered comes back to life, the convict can be released!!! Simple!!! Surely the rights of deceased cannot be ignored.

  17. Castor says:

    I suspect if this challenge is successful, a term of incarceration will be determined, no less than 25 years and at the discretion of the parole board which means parole will not be automatic after the prescribed term being served. If a person enters prison to serve 25 years w/ o parole, that's a long, long time. The person serving the sentence certainly isn't the same person coming out that went in 25 years previous. 

    • Anonymous says:

      You got that right, they come out worse than they went in.  There are persons in Northward now who murdered, served a lengthy time and within a short time of being released, they had killed again.  Doesn't society ever learn?  Throw the key AWAY!

  18. Anonymous says:

    This cannot work in a place so small as Cayman! 

    Like other commenters said what about the rights of the person who died at the hand's of this murderer? WHAT ABOUT THEIR FAMILY?! You think if someone capable of committing murder isn't going to do it again?! Do you know the kind of mind set it takes to actually kill someone? Obviously he feels as if it's not a big deal if her doesn't think he deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison for taking someone else's. Go do some research! Studies show that someone who has killed once is most likely going to do it again. What kind of place would we be to allow more murders than we already have walking out streets out. If we've caught one of them we need to keep him behind bars… PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE! 

    • Truthseeker says:

      Would you care to share some of your studies that show "someone who has killed once is most likely going to do it again"? Not saying you are wrong, but I wonder if you could spare the rest of us the research as you have evidenlty already done it.

      Thanking you in advance.



  19. Anonymous says:

    While some may not agree, I do feel that after an appropriate time in prison the window of opportunity for a parole hearing should be opened. However, the appropriate time MUST be sufficient and in keeping with the actual crime committed.

  20. Anonymous says:

    UNBELIEVABLE!!! You take another man's life and you feel that you have a right to have your freedom!? I hope you rot up there! You should have thought about that before you played God and took another human beings life!! Butwith the way this human rights crap is set up, people like you will never be truly held accountably for your acts. God I tell you, I believe if we were ruled by the US we would be better off!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I am God. And I don't believe a word of your crap about human rights or being ruled by the US.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Human Rights will be the death of us.

  22. Anonymous says:

    A mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole is inhumane. Any murderer who lives to be 100 years old should be able to look forward to being released on that day.

    • McCain Them All says:

      So you are really just advocating minimal custodial sentences for the murderously inclined octogenarians out there.

      This will incite senior citizens to wickedness knowing they can get no more than 20 years……

  23. Jah Lives says:

    What about the peoples lives they have taken? Ok so you want to have the right to take someone's life and the victims don't deserve justice right? How unfair! You took someone's life and you don't believe now that your life as a free person should be taken away, at least you are not dead!  

    • Anonymous says:

      I think Cayman Islands should have the Death Penality.  If you kill someone and found guilty, then the Death Penality should be had option for the Jury or Judge to decide.

      • Anonymous says:

        Only problem with that is, like it or not, we're moving out of the dark ages along with the rest of the world.

        • Anonymous says:

          Sorry to disagree, but we are not moving out of the dark ages.  Let me ask you a question, if some kills a member of your family and that person is found guilty of capital murder, then what is your recommendation of punishment???? 

          • Anonymous says:

            There are very many instances in this world where people are 'found guilty without reasonable doubt' of murder and thirty years later someone's guilty conscience finally forces them to admit they told a lie in court. Just ask the gentleman who was recently released from Northward. A gentler, meeker, milder, more respectable, pleasant person than this man is very hard to come by, yet he was 'found guilty without reasonable doubt' of being a cold blooded murderer and thirty years of his precious life has been wasted in the name of justice and at very significant cost to our community, including you. What a terrible terrible waste. It will remain my firm opinion that Steve Manderson is in the very same shoes as this unfortunate gentleman and I truly pity every unthinking member of our community that insists on condemning him to hell without having the slightest inkling as to whether he was truly guilty as charged.

            • Anonymous says:

              You certainly cannot judge anyone's guilt or innocence based on how humble, gentle etc. they appear after having served a 20 year prison sentence, and automatically assume that the courts got it wrong and injustice was meted out. If one could do that there would be no need for a justice system at all; the govt. could just hire you to determine how meek and mild people appear and determine their guilt of innocence accordingly.       

  24. Anonymous says:

    He got a whiff of Northward and just now realize that that woman was not worth it?  Well too bad – what about the man you killed rights Tareek Ricketts?? What about the murdered man rights!!!??