Four boat thefts equal four year sentence

Sentence reduced for guilty pleas

James Orville Ebanks was sentenced
on Monday to four years in prison for the theft of four boats since 2005.

Advised that Ebanks, 48, was under
a suspended sentence when he committed the most recent thefts, Justice
Alexander Henderson activated that sentence, for a total of five years.

The vessels stolen were the Carib
Wave, a cruise ship passenger tender, in December 2005; Dive ‘n Stuff, a
30-foot dive boat, in April 2008; Stocks and Blonds, a 29-foot Boston Whaler in
May 2008; Spirit of Calypso, a 45-foot catamaran, also in May 2008.

Crown Counsel Kirsty-Ann Gunn said
the Carib Wave had been moored overnight in South Sound. When staff went to
retrieve it at 5am, it was missing. Ebanks had taken it to Honduras, where he obtained
false documentation for the vessel and sold it for US$10,000. Its owner later
went to Honduras, confirmed it was his boat and bought it back for US$15,000.
The vessel was valued at CI$78,860.

Ebanks returned to Cayman in 2006,
and on 28 April 2008, stole the Dive ‘n Stuff off Public Beach on West Bay
Road. The boat was located that night, beached on rock in the area of Cobalt
Coast in West Bay. Ebanks had gained access by breaking a lock. That plus
damage to the hull was valued at $6,500.

Two weeks later, the owner of
Stocks and Blonds discovered his boat missing from an area off Laguna Del Mar.
He hired a helicopter to assist in searching for it, and the boat was found off
Barkers in West Bay. Five fishing rods and a wallet had been stolen. The boat
was valued at $215,000.

A week after that, the owner of a
vessel anchored off The Pinnacle condominiums discovered it had been broken
into; dive equipment and a tool box had been removed. Value of the items was
around $2,000.

Those items were later discovered
on board the Spirit of Calypso. The vessel had been moored off Seven Mile Beach
near the Westin and was last seen on 18 May. That evening, the officers of
police marine section, aboard Cayman Protector, intercepted the vessel 140
miles southwest of Grand Cayman — in line with a course to Honduras.

Ebanks was found alone on the
45-foot vessel. He said he had been instructed by two men to sail the boat on a
certain heading and he would be met in open waters. He admitted knowing that
the boat was owned by red Sail Sports.

In mitigation, Defence Attorney
John Meghoo pointed out that, by Mr. Ebanks accepting his responsibilty, a
costly and lengthy trial had been avoided, and he asked that Ebanks be given a
community-based sentence.

Justice Henderson asked for more
insight into the reasons for the boat thefts.

Mr. Meghoo said Ebanks took the
Carib Wave to Honduras because he was getting threats from someone and “was in
a mess from alcohol and drugs.” Further, he was running from a charge of
aggravated burglary — which he was cleared of when he came back. Of the
$10,000 he received for selling the vessel, he said, $6,000 turned out to be
counterfeit. While in Honduras, Ebanks said, he was picked up by police for not
having identification at night and he was tortured by prison guards.

Ebanks took Dive ‘n Stuff because
he couldn’t get a ride home to West Bay.

He took Stocks and Blonds while
under the influence of cocaine and alcohol because he wanted to go for a ride.

Justice Henderson said in his view
the appropriate sentence was six years, reduced for the guilty plea to four
years. He achieved this by imposing a one-year sentence for each boat theft, to
run consecutively. The theft and damage offences were each met with a six-month
sentence, also concurrent.

As for the suspended sentence,
since there were no exceptional circumstances, ran consecutive to all the
others.

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