Courtroom cleared in firearm case

Michael Timothy Ebanks appeared in Grand Court from custody on 19 November for a Newton hearing.

The 21-year-old is charged with one count of importing firearms and has been in custody since 13 November, 2008.

The charges relate to guns allegedly shipped from the USA to Cayman in November of that same year.

Mr. Ebanks plead guilty to these charges on 26 June, 2009 but said he was only aware of one gun being in the fridge.

The Crown said they were not willing to accept Ebanks’ plea on that basis, which was the reason for Thursday’s hearing.

A ‘Newton hearing’ is a special hearing to examine disputed facts on the basis they may affect sentencing.

The guns were found in a refrigerator that Ebanks admitted belonged to him.

Though, when Ebanks was first brought to court, the Magistrate at the time was told that an unnamed female had attempted to pick up the fridge. The woman was listed as the importer on customs documents.

She has not been charged.

Items recovered from the refrigerator included one AK-47 magazine, one Mach 10 magazine, two Smith and Wesson handguns, a Titan handgun, a Tauras .45 handgun and a quantity of ammunition.

During Thursday’s proceedings an ex-parte application made in chambers by Defence Attorney Benjamin Tonner was granted.

Justice Roy Anderson ordered everyone to clear the courtroom as a result. He cited the sensitivity of the case as the basis for his decision.

This is the second case involving firearms, where such an order has been made; the first being the proceedings involving person charged with the 5 July murder of Omar Samuels.

Provisions for such rulings are set out in the law.