Cocaine user rejects help

‘Perhaps that’s the power of the drug’

After pleading guilty last year to consuming cocaine, Lennie Phillip Ebanks was given the opportunity to apply to the Drug Rehabilitation Court. Later he was offered residential treatment at Caribbean Haven.

But he rejected the help available and on Tuesday was sentenced to nine months imprisonment.

‘For the last one and a half years you enjoyed every opportunity to get clean,’ Chief Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale told Ebanks.

Referring to the Drug Rehab Court’s team of counsellors and probation workers, she told him, ‘You had no fewer than eight professionals dedicated to help you obtain and maintain sobriety. You cannot now complain that you are imprisoned for continuous breach of the law.’

The offence that brought Ebanks to court was committed in February 2008.

The magistrate and Defence Attorney Steve McField discussed Ebanks’ history before sentence was passed.

While in the drug court, Ebanks’ urine analysis was consistently positive for cocaine. He was not able to maintain sobriety in the community and was discharged from the drug court programme. He was given a chance to attend Caribbean Haven.

Mr. McField told the court, ‘I had a long talk with him. He has rejected the offer you made to him. He has instructed me he wants the matter over with as soon as possible.’

The magistrate read from a social inquiry report that quoted Ebanks as saying he believed any prison sentence was likely to be short. ‘He is prepared to serve a term of imprisonment for the privilege of consuming drugs,’ she observed.

But, she added, the sentence for cocaine consumption can be between six months and a year, depending on a person’s record.

Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn handed up Ebanks’ record. It showed he first came to court for cocaine consumption in 1987.

Mr. McField said Ebanks was now 47. He had been working and his elderly parents relied on him and his salary. Both had health problems. ‘It’s a tragic situation because they depend on him and now he won’t be there.

‘I know he has a long history of consumption. He seems to be a perpetual user,’ the attorney commented.

The magistrate said she did not understand why Ebanks did not stop. ‘He has exercised a choice to continue, despite the fact that people rely on him.’

Mr. McField replied, ‘Perhaps that’s the power of the drug.’ He said he understood that many users are able to control themselves and seek help. In Ebanks’ case, he could only ask for leniency.

The magistrate expressed sympathy for Ebanks’ parents, but not for him.

‘It sits ill with the court that you would plead in aid your parents’ dependence on you,’ she told him. ‘Despite your certain knowledge that they need you, you continue to use drugs knowing full well your defiance of the law will at some point put you in prison.’

The magistrate said she would make sure his parents’ situation was referred to Social Services.

She advised Ebanks of his right to appeal sentence, but no notice was given.