Convicted man needs community help

After being placed on probation last Friday, Durney Loxley Ebanks was asked if he understood all of the conditions he would be under.

Ebanks, 41, thought about the question awhile, then told Justice Priya Levers, ‘The Lord will guide me.’

‘Well, yes,’ the judge replied, ‘but you need a little local help, too.’

That help will come from an officer of the Probation and Aftercare Unit, from the Mental Health Unit if the officer directs Ebanks to attend, and from a counsellor.

Ebanks is also required to submit to random tests to make sure he is not using illegal drugs and he must refrain from entering liquor licensed premises.

The final condition is that he does not go back to his father’s house.

The father, now 83, was the complainant in two charges against Ebanks. The offences – robbery and burglary – occurred on 1 February this year. Ebanks had been in custody since.

He pleaded guilty in July, at which time Defence Attorney Ben Tonner had already identified the problem – Ebanks’ crimes were the direct result of chronic drug abuse.

The Crown Counsel at the time, George Keightley, gave the background to the charges (Caymanian Compass, 18 July).

Ebanks had asked his father for money and was given $4. He said that wasn’t enough. He picked up several medium-sized stones and threatened to hit his father, who then gave him $25.

Ebanks told him that was what he wanted so he could buy a hit of cocaine.

Later, when the father returned to his home, he discovered the back door opened and damaged. A radio, food and $15 worth of coins were missing. The radio was especially important because it kept him company every day.

Justice Levers directed that Ebanks be assessed for suitability for some kind of intensive supervision programme. She set sentencing for 31 August.

On that date she found the assessment report to be inadequate for sentencing purposes. She also expressed concern that Cayman does not have a residential mental health facility.

Ebanks asked for a suspended sentence and said he would not break it. ‘I’ve been in prison a long time and it isn’t helping,’ he told the court.

Justice Levers asked what he did all day. Ebanks said he carried out garbage in the evening, but he could ‘lay down and watch TV all day.’ He said it was kind of nice because he had meals, showers and soap.

The judge asked him if he had counselling. Ebanks told her nobody was seeing him. There were meetings for Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous, ‘but I know I’m off cocaine now.’

The judge said she wanted to be sure she was passing the right sentence, so she adjourned the matter again.

Last Friday the judge had the report requested and she discussed it with Ebanks. She said he could only be released from prison if he had someone to guide him – ‘someone qualified to help you in life.’ She then explained the conditions of the probation order, which is for three years.

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