Neighbour guilty of burglary

A West Bay resident whose house was burgled stayed home the next day and intercepted the intruder.

After trial in Summary Court, Magistrate Nova Hall weighed the resident’s evidence and concluded that his identification of the intruder was accurate.

She convicted Kirston Bent Ebanks of burglary and last week sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment.

Ebanks admitted two separate charges of theft, for which he received a further six months each. These sentences were concurrent with each other, but consecutive to the burglary, for a total of 18 months.

The burglary victim said that on the night of 17 January he noticed a large bottle of rum missing from his bedroom.

He checked the house, including two doors that had been secured using plywood with concrete nails attached into the interior of the house. He found one of the pieces of plywood loose, as if it had been pushed from the outside.

This witness said he believed the intruder was likely to return, so the next day he removed his car from the scene and stayed home. He intended to give the impression that no one was in the house.

He told the court that he was lying in bed the next morning watching TV when he heard the sound of someone pushing on his bedroom door. He got up and reached for a piece of pipe. He said it was the defendant who entered.

The magistrate reviewed the circumstances of the identification. The witness had said the bedroom had two sets of double windows with blinds over them. Although the blinds were closed, they let in about 30 per cent of the light, as if they were fully open.

The two men faced each other from a distance of eight or nine feet and had had a conversation.

The exchange lasted 15 to 20 seconds, during which time the witness said he had no difficulty seeing the intruder’s features and clothing.

He told the court he knew the intruder as Benny; they had been neighbours about five years, but were not friends. He saw Benny every few days.

In effect, he said to the intruder, ‘Benny, I’m gonna call the police. If you move I’m gonna kill you.’

The intruder called the householder by name and said he was sorry. He then said words to the effect, ‘You gonna have to kill me sir’ and ran from the house.

The man ran after him, but slipped and fell. He returned home and called police, who arrested the defendant approximately five days later.

Ebanks did not give evidence, but relied on his interview with police. He had denied the burglary. He stated that, on the day in question, he went to feed his dog and discovered that it had gone onto the complainant’s property. While he was attempting to call the dog, the complainant came out with a piece of pipe and told him not to come on the property.

This version of events was put to the complainant during the trial and he denied it. He also denied that the accusation was prompted by any previous history of animosity.

The magistrate accepted the complainant as a witness of truth and was satisfied he was not mistaken. The time, the distance, the lighting and the acquaintance between the men were all sufficient for him to make an accurate identification.

One theft charge involved a cordless drill. Ebanks admitted going onto a porch without permission and taking the item. It was valued at $180. Police saw Ebanks with it and asked where he got it.

He initially said he found it in the garbage, but officers rejected this because the drill was in mint working condition. That same day its owner reported it stolen.

The other theft was of a marine radio along with fishing and diving gear with a total value of $2,165. These items were taken from a locked shed, the door of which was damaged in the process.

Attorney John Furniss suggested that the stolen bottle of rum gave a hint as to Ebanks’ problem. Now 42, the defendant was realising he needed help. He worked as a fisherman and did odd jobs. His previous offences were relatively minor.

In passing sentence for the thefts, the magistrate said she was taking into account the fact that all of the stolen items had been recovered.

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