Kidnapper makes own appeal to cut jail time

| 13/11/2013

(CNS): Charles Webster, who was convicted in April 2011 along with three other men of kidnapping Tyson Tatum in Cayman’s first major abduction for ransom, made an appeal Tuesday for the higher court to cut his ten year sentence. Webster, who was unrepresented, made his own written submissions asking for a reduction as he said he was not a major player in the crime. He submitted that the mastermind behind the kidnapping, Richard Hurlstone, had never served any time, despite being given 15 years for his part in the crime as the authorities let him abscond while he was on bail. He also argued that Wespie Mullins, another architect of the kidnapping plot, had only been given a five year sentence for his part and was now free because he had cooperated in order to get less jail time.

Formally of good character and despite, as he described it, being dragged into the plot at the last minute, Webster was handed a ten year sentence. This was because the judge had considered the kidnapping of significant concern to the wider community and had to impose adeterrent to prevent any possible repeat of this type of crime in the Cayman Islands.

In his own words, Webster asked for the appeal court to cut his sentence by even just one year as he said it was not fair that the two masterminds were “on the road” while he was still in jail, having come to Cayman from Honduras for what he was told was a construction job.

Webster, along with Allan Kelly, who also received a ten year sentence following trial, was part of a gang, which kidnapped Tatum for ransom and held him against his will at a house in North Side as the gang attempted to extort money from the victim’s family. However, the plot was foiled in just over a day when, despite being bound, gagged and tied to a chair, Tatum was left unattended by his captors and was able to escape.

Arguing that the sentence was not excessive and if anything it could be described as lenient given the seriousness of the crime, crown counsel defended Justice Charles Quin’s sentence during the appeal hearing. The government lawyer said that Mullins was handed a lower sentence because he had not only pleaded guilty but he had cooperated with the police and given evidence at trial about what had happened.

The appeal court panel, who had given Webster the chance to speak in his defence despite his lack of legal counsel, told the appellant that they would consider his submission and deliver their ruling on Wednesday.

The court heard several other appeals Tuesday, including that of Rabe Welcome, who was appealing both his wounding conviction and the six month sentence.

Eric Adam was convicted of stealing just under $30,000 from the bank where he worked and was sentenced to 2.5 years for theft and false accounting but is now out of prison. He also appealed his conviction and argued against a compensation order imposed on him to pay back the stolen loot.

The appeal court also heard from Matio Dinall, who was appealing his fifteen year sentence for possession of an unlicensed firearm in relation to the gang related shooting in 2005, when he fired a pistol at a house in Bodden Town. Both Adam and Dinall’s cases are expected to be ruled on tomorrow, while Welcome will learn his fate next week.

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