Prison return ordered

Chief Magistrate urges support system

Three weeks after he was released from prison for an earlier offence, Travis Kelvin Ebanks was back in custody for burglary.

Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale reviewed Ebanks’ history before sentencing him on Wednesday to three years imprisonment.

She said he was in danger of becoming institutionalised – being in custody so long there was a concern he could not function in the community.

Referring to various reports, she noted Ebanks had said he spent 22 of his 26 years in institutions.

‘His very specialised needs can be met,’ she stated. ‘His needs do not lend themselves to regular treatment.’

The magistrate said Ebanks had been born with foetal alcohol syndrome. As a young person he had abused inhalant drugs: a medical report suggested they may have caused frontal lobe damage.

‘We see extraordinary impulsivity,’ she commented. ‘I cannot say there is enormous cognitive defect but there is some, which will always impact on his ability to support himself.’

Ebanks’ record of convictions started in 1998, the magistrate noted. He had completed his last sentence in early September 2008. On 24 September, he committed a daytime residential burglary in George Town.

The magistrate said Ebanks pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He told the court he had found it extremely difficult to operate in the community, having been released from prison without accommodation, supervision, a job or family support.

Three case conferences were held before sentencing took place. The magistrate noted with some distress that two family members did not attend although they had been invited. She said the family was reluctant to assist because of Ebanks’ behaviour in the past.

The court had involved numerous resources in the case conferences, including a psychologist, someone to assist with job placement and a young professional willing to serve as a mentor.

Eventually, Ebanks could perhaps go back into the community in a measured way through work release and ultimately through full release supervised by a parole officer. Perhaps, through counselling, mentorship and working under supervised release, Ebanks’ very specialised needs could be met and his difficulties could be ameliorated, the magistrate summarised.

Meanwhile, while he was in custody, the court recommended treatment for drug abuse and psychiatric support. Ebanks was doing GED studies and meeting a counsellor.

The sentence of three years was based on Ebanks’ previous convictions for burglary and the aggravating feature of the female occupant coming home while he was in the premises.

Ebanks pretended he was looking for someone and had made a mistake. He left the home and was picked up the same day after the woman gave police a description.