Former teller gets six months

Eddie Marlon Ebanks, a former bank teller, was sentenced to six months imprisonment on Friday. Ebanks, 28, had pleaded guilty to theft from the account of a bank customer.

He admitted stealing 11 different amounts of money between February and July in 2005. Those sums ranged between $250 and $2,800, totalling $18,214.29.

Justice Alexander Henderson said he preferred to see Northward Prison reserved for people who are a danger to the community, but he adjourned sentencing in order to review a recent ruling by the Court of Appeal.

That ruling pertained to two cases of theft involving an employee’s breach of trust. The court said that, in light of the economy of the Cayman Islands, the sentence should be one that will act as an effective deterrent.

‘It is no exaggeration to say the economy of the Cayman Islands depends on maintenance of public confidence in the banking system here,’ Justice Henderson said. The Court of Appeal concluded that even for a first offence the appropriate sentence is one of immediate imprisonment unless exceptional circumstances are shown.

After reviewing the facts and mitigation for Ebanks, the judge said it was with some regret that he was not able to view the circumstances in this case as exceptional.

Given the amount of money involved, the apparent reason for the theft and the fact that Ebanks lost his job, the judge said nine months was the appropriate sentence, minus three months for the guilty plea.

Crown Counsel Tricia Hutchinson told the court a cheque for $18,214.29 from an insurance company was deposited in the customer’s account in November 2004.

In July 2005, the bank received an inquiry about the cheque. The manager looked into the matter and found no funds in the account. He investigated further and discovered that a particular teller number had been used to access the account.

Ebanks was confronted three days later and made full admissions. He wrote the bank a letter saying he did take the money and wanted to make full repayment. He said he had been overwhelmed by his living expenses.

Justice Henderson asked if any of the money had been paid back. Defence Attorney Edward Renvoize said it had not at this stage, but the offer continued.

Mr. Renvoize said Ebanks had done all he could to find a well-paying job so that he could offer to pay back $500 per month. If Ebanks were incarcerated, he could not pay the money back, but if the sentence were suspended he could.

Ebanks is now 28, gainfully employed and with no previous convictions. He knew he would not likely be trusted with money in a job again. Ebanks had asked the bank for a loan ‘and they never gave him an answer,’ Mr. Renvoize related.

‘But he worked at the bank,’ the judge pointed out. ‘He would be well placed to chase them for an answer.’

In his sentencing remarks, Justice Henderson commented that the ultimate victim of the theft was the bank, which was liable to its customer.