Seven-year sentence upheld

Three burglaries and two offensive weapon convictions added up to seven years imprisonment for a repeat offender.

The Summary Court magistrate who imposed the sentence and the Grand Court judge who reviewed it appeared to disagree on the separate sentences, but they agreed on the overall total.

‘The global sentence is what I am concerned with,’ Mr. Justice Alex Henderson emphasised last week. He was hearing the appeal of Arley Haylock Ebanks as argued by Defence Attorney John Furniss.

The judge agreed with Mr. Furniss that the sentences for burglary were somewhat high, but he then pointed out that one of the sentences for an offensive weapon was ‘manifestly low’.

Before giving his final decision, Mr. Justice Henderson asked about the circumstances of the offending and Ebanks’ background. He was advised that the defendant, 44, had 86 previous convictions, many of them drug related.

Ebanks’ record showed convictions for drug consumption since 1988.

Mr. Furniss agreed that Ebanks had a bad record, but said the present appeal was based on two points: the defendant had pleaded guilty to everything except one offensive weapon and common assault; the maximum sentence in Summary Court is eight years [apart from drugs], but Ebanks got seven in spite of his pleas.

The magistrate had observed that short sentences hadn’t helped Ebanks in the past. Mr. Furniss quoted her as saying that a long sentence would give the defendant greater opportunity for rehabilitation and give the public protection.

The attorney said he could not argue with the general statement, but seven years was excessive.

‘Does your client have a plan for his life?’ the judge asked. ‘Or does he just want to get out and start using cocaine again?’

Mr. Furniss said that when the defendant had stayed away from his old associates, he was clean from drugs. There were two difficulties: because Cayman is small, if Ebanks didn’t go to get drugs, he could be found by suppliers; because there is no halfway house, there was no place Ebanks could return to after a day’s work, where he would be regularly tested.

Mr. Furniss said Ebanks did have a supportive family and had lived for a while with a relative. But there was a falling out, so he had moved back to his old environment.

In his decision, Mr. Justice Henderson reviewed the sentences under appeal. For the first two burglaries, at a laundromat and a supermarket, the magistrate had imposed three year terms running concurrently.

The third burglary, of the same supermarket, was committed while Ebanks was on bail for the first two. The magistrate therefore made that sentence consecutive, bringing the total to six years.

For theft of a chocolate bar from another supermarket, resisting arrest, common assault and two counts of carrying an offensive weapon, Ebanks received one sentence of 30 days and others of six months, some concurrent and some consecutive, for one more year.

The judge detailed one of the incidents. He said a supermarket security guard was justified in approaching Ebanks outside the store and asking for a search. The defendant refused. Asked again, the defendant bent down and removed a knife from his bicycle. He then made a stabbing motion toward the guard three times.

‘In my view, six months is far too light for that sort of thing,’ the judge said.

He then upheld the global sentence of seven years and dismissed the appeal.