Deception offences net nine years

Victims told they could get status

Paul Anthony Ebanks, 43, was sentenced last week after being found guilty of obtaining $500 by deception – representing he could obtain Caymanian status for a Jamaican national on work permit.

Justice Charles Quin imposed a term of four years imprisonment, but made it clear his intent was to increase to nine years the time Ebanks is currently serving for similar offences.

He said Ebanks had ‘callously and ruthlessly exploited a hard-working man who only sought to improve his position.’ Added to that was Ebanks’ previous ‘shocking’ record, which included 13 other convictions for obtaining money from people by falsely representing he would use it to secure status for them.

Ebanks, whose own status is in question, began a four-year term of imprisonment in June 2006 after a Grand Court jury found him guilty of a different kind of deception.

In that case, Ebanks obtained more than $100,000 from a prominent businessman over a period of six months. The deception began when Ebanks was in the man’s office and received a phone call. Ebanks became distressed and tearful and told the man the call was about his daughter falling from a swing at school.

Later that day, Ebanks returned to the man’s office and said he needed $5,000 for an air ambulance for his daughter. A cheque was written so that one of the employees could go to the bank and give Ebanks cash.

Over the next days and weeks he returned to get more money, supposedly for medical bills and supposedly because he was having problems with insurance.

He received the money between November 2000 and May 2001 and never paid any of it back. A check with the school he named showed no such incident had occurred. Criminal charges were laid in 2004 and tried two years later.

The Caymanian Compass was asked not to report on the trial because Ebanks had another set of charges set for trial soon after and it was felt publicity might prejudice a jury.

2004 offences

In October 2006 a jury found Ebanks guilty of obtaining various sums, ranging from $920 to $3,600 and totalling $20,220. These offences occurred in 2004, when Ebanks told people he had connections and could secure status for them or, in one case, for their child.

The judge in that trial sentenced Ebanks to six years imprisonment, making the term run concurrently with the four years previously handed down.

Ebanks then had a trial on deception charges for which he was found not guilty. That was followed, in 2008, by a trial in which he was found guilty on two counts of obtaining property by deception. He was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, to be served consecutive to the previous six-year sentence.

Justice Quin sat as judge alone – without a jury — for the last set of charges in July. He agreed with Defence Attorney Phillip McGhee that there was no case to answer on a majority of the charges because the witness was not sure Ebanks was the man to whom he gave money on behalf of other people. If the witness was not sure, the court could not be sure either, Justice Quin pointed out.

Ebanks then gave evidence and responded to the one charge he still faced. He said the man did give him money, but it was because Ebanks was involved in selling numbers and the man sold numbers for him. He gave details of how the lottery works in Cayman.

Ebanks further stated that he was born in Jamaica to a Jamaican woman who then married a Caymanian. The Caymanian brought them here in 1972. Paul was six at the time and his mother’s husband legally adopted him. Ebanks said he had the papers to prove it.

In his sentencing remarks, Justice Quin said it appeared Ebanks’ status here was uncertain. It also appeared from the evidence that Ebanks was involved in some criminal offences other than the one for which he was convicted. The judge recommended that both these matters be sent to the Attorney General for his consideration.

As to the deception charge, Justice Quin stated, ‘This particular type of dishonest offence attacks the integrity of our Immigration Laws and immigration procedure and consequently tarnishes the reputation and image of the Cayman Islands.’

Mr. McGhee had called the deception an unpleasant offence and the judge agreed it was one ‘that preys on the anxiety of many innocent visitors to the Cayman Islands – an anxiety that surrounds many expatriates who wish to stay in these islands and continue working here.’

Crown Counsel John Masters advised that the offence of obtaining by deception carries a maximum term of 10 years. He also pointed out that Ebanks never pleaded guilty to any of the charges and never showed remorse, maintaining his innocence even after being convicted.

The judge gave Ebanks four years, making two years concurrent with his current sentence and two years consecutive. Mr. McGhee said the sentence would be appealed.

Mr. McGhee had called the deception an unpleasant offence and the judge agreed it was one ‘that preys on … an anxiety that surrounds many expatriates who wish to stay in these islands and continue working here.’