Second gun offence nets 12 years

After receiving the mandatory ten-year prison term in November for one firearm offence, Christopher Kelvin Ebanks returned to court last Friday to be sentenced for robbery and another firearm conviction.

Justice Ingrid Mangatal imposed a term of 12 years for the robbery of Chisholm’s Supermarket in North Side in January 2007. She also imposed 12 years for possession of an imitation firearm – a flare gun – with intent to commit the robbery. The two terms will run at the same time.

The judge ordered that the new sentence begin that day. Defence Attorney John Furniss later confirmed that the net effect will be a term of imprisonment of about 12 ½ years.

In court, Mr. Furniss had emphasised that Ebanks is just 22. He asked the judge not to impose a sentence so long that Ebanks would be left with no hope of even wanting to consider any reform or rehabilitation. He urged that ‘the totality of it all’ be considered.

The judge agreed that Ebanks did potentially have much life ahead of him, but she had to consider the seriousness of the offences along with his other convictions for dishonesty. He had been assessed as being at very high risk of re-offending, she noted.

Justice Mangatal also referred to the need to pass sentences that would deter other would-be offenders. She ordered a sentence of 12 years imprisonment ‘at hard labour’.

Crown Counsel Nicola Moore advised that Cayman does not have hard labour. Mr. Furniss said it had been taken out of the law. The judge amended her order accordingly.

The November sentence was for unlicensed possession of a Crossman 45 millimetre pellet gun in October 2007. At the time Ebanks was on bail for the Chisholm’s robbery, which took some time to come to trial because it involved DNA testing of evidence.

In the Firearms Law, the mandatory minimum sentence applies to a lethal-barrel weapon. According to the manufacturer, the Crossman is capable of producing a velocity that medical studies said could cause serious injury or death. That description makes it a lethal-barrel weapon.

The Crossman had allegedly been used in a robbery in West Bay. Ebanks told police a relative had given him the gun to hide and he had put it in a hole in the eave of a nearby house. After some time in custody, he took officers to the site and the gun was recovered.

Ebanks was charged with the West Bay robbery as well as possession of the gun. He pleaded not guilty to everything and chose trial by judge alone. He denied any admissions to officers.

Justice Lennox Campbell found him not guilty of the robbery, citing unsatisfactory evidence on the vital issue of identification. He found him guilty of possessing the gun and imposed the mandatory sentence.

The gun used in the Chisholm robbery was a flare gun. As Ms Moore pointed out during last week’s sentencing, a flare gun is normally orange, but this one was painted black, ‘maybe with the intention of making it look more like a real gun.’

There is no mandatory minimum for possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence.

Justice Mangatal clarified that a flare gun on a boat would not be considered a firearm, but on land would technically be considered an imitation firearm. Ms Moore agreed.

Ebanks and a co-defendant had chosen to be tried by judge alone for the Chisholm robbery (Caymanian Compass, 2 February). Justice Mangatal said there was insufficient evidence against the other man, but she was satisfied Ebanks was the person who walked into the store and demanded cash and cigarettes. He received about $400 and a carton of Benson and Hedges.

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