Cayman Compass

Judge hears murder sentence submissions

Justice Frank Williams heard submissions on Friday to help him decide on the sentence to be passed on William Ian Rivers, who was convicted by a Grand Court jury of murdering Mark “Hubba” Seymour in West Bay on Jan. 28, 2017.

Mr. Rivers never denied that he killed Mr. Seymour by shooting him outside Super C Restaurant on Watercourse Road. But his legal team had sought to prove that he was suffering from “diminished responsibility” because of mental illness at the time of the killing, and was therefore guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter. A six-man, six-woman jury rejected that claim after trial in September 2018, returning a verdict of guilty on the charge of murder.

After Justice Williams heard from senior Crown counsel Candia Williams and defense attorney Crister Brady, he adjourned the matter, with Friday, March 29, set tentatively for his decision.

In addition to the convicted man’s state of mind at the time of the shooting, Mr. Brady also raised the question of his age – 38. The penalty for murder in Cayman is life imprisonment. The Conditional Release Law of 2014, however, sets 30 years as the minimum time a convicted person would have to serve before he or she could apply for release. The sentencing court could go above or below 30 years if there were aggravating or extenuating circumstances that were considered exceptional.

Ms. James identified two factors in Mr. Rivers’s case that she considered exceptional. First was his 2008 conviction for inflicting grievous bodily harm, for which he received a suspended sentence. The second aggravating factor was his behavior toward bystanders when he shot Mr. Seymour – firing shots in the direction of two witnesses and pointing the gun in the face of another woman, which she understood as a threat if she said anything. Ms. James said the Crown’s position was that there were no extenuating circumstances of an exceptional nature.

Mr. Brady pointed out that his client’s grievous bodily harm offense had occurred some 10 years before the shooting and that conviction might be considered spent. He argued that if there were threats against bystanders, they would have occurred after the shooting of Mr. Seymour and so did not impact the act of killing.

He pointed to the mental and emotional stress Mr. Rivers was under at the time of the shooting: his loss of employment, lack of a stable home life, feelings of jealousy because of a perception that his wife was involved in an affair with Mr. Seymour.

Ms. James submitted that the jury verdict was a rejection of the claim of any mental illness. There was evidence that Mr. Rivers suffered only from an antisocial personality disorder, which was common among violent offenders and could not be considered exceptional, she said.

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