(CMR) Courtney Mason Bryan, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing Recordo Lionel Pars during an attack outside Lillie's Nightclub in 2020, was successful in having his sentence reduced to eight years by the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal.
Bryan, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, filed an appeal on the basis that he did not bring the knife used to kill Pars but that he picked up the knife during an attack, acting in self-defense. As a result, he believed this was an offense of lower culpability, which fell within the 5 to 12-year range, with a starting point of 8 years in custody.
The Court of Appeal agreed the provocation was substantial, and Bryan's response was not extreme, with the attack lasting for minutes and his actions appearing to be in the heat of the moment.
The court heard that while at Lillie's on the morning of 29th August 2020, Bryan was attacked from behind by a man, who punched him to the ground. The man's brother then join in the attack, and both men kicked and punched him while on the ground.
Bryan said he saw a knife lying on the ground and picked it up. When he got to his feet, he said he held up the knife to try and get the men to back off, but they did not.
He said he had no intention of using the knife; however, both men followed him between two cars, and he felt trapped and feared for his life. He then proceeded to use the knife on one of the brothers. Pars was stabbed twice, once in the leg and once in the lower abdomen. The attack was also caught on camera.
Bryan said at the time, he thought he was acting in self-defense but admitted he lost self-control and went further than was necessary. He was initially charged with murder, but the charge was then reduced to manslaughter.
In a judge-only hearing in the Grand Court, the judge accepted Bryan's account as to how he came by the knife. However, when he was sentenced in the Grand Court, the judge took 15 years' imprisonment as the appropriate notional sentence after a trial and reduced it by one-third to reflect the plea of guilty. He was then sentenced to 10 years in prison.
In reducing the sentence to eight years, the Court of Appeal judges said they “were persuaded that in the particular circumstances of this case, it would have been open to the judge to impose a sentence somewhat less than the notional 15-year sentence after a trial.”
“There was no intention to kill. Reflecting all these features, it does seem to us that a notional sentence after a trial of 12 years would have been sufficient to reflect the Appellant’s criminality. That translates into a sentence of 8 years following the early plea of guilty. Such a sentence would recognize the extent of provocation and that in the heat of the moment, the Appellant, having picked up the knife, made use of it not intending in doing so to kill,” the Court of Appeal judgment stated.