Magistrate returns to court in Cayman for 2006 drug case

Man who absconded sentenced to 18 months

Magistrate Grace Donalds, who retired in late 2010, returned to Summary Court in Grand Cayman on Thursday to sentence Christopher Remourn Ebanks to 18 months imprisonment on a ganja charge that was first brought to court in 2006. 

Ebanks’ first appearance was on 8 February, 2006, when he was accused of possessing 90 pounds of ganja with intent to supply. Later, he pleaded guilty to consuming ganja but denied the possession charge. Trial dates were set, but Ebanks did not appear. 

Three other defendants were involved, so, in 2007, Magistrate Donalds ruled that the trial would go ahead in Ebanks’ absence. She found him guilty after hearing evidence that he had asked for the ganja to be stored in another man’s house. The magistrate also ordered a warrant for Ebanks’ arrest. 

File records indicate that Ebanks came back to court in July. He had been in custody since. 

On Thursday, attorney Lloyd Samson said Ebanks had told him he absented himself initially because of health concerns regarding a family member overseas. “He returned voluntarily and stands ready to accept the consequences of what you deemed to be his responsibility,” Mr. Samson told the court. 

Crown counsel Michael Snape advised on the sentences of the other men involved. He said whatever Ebanks received, it should be more than the others because of his not guilty plea, his higher level of involvement and the fact that he had not assisted authorities. 

Mr. Samson cited cases involving 300 and 600 pounds of ganja for which the defendants received three years and 38 months, respectively. In his experience, anything in the region of 100 pounds attracted a sentence of 12 to 18 months, he said. 

The magistrate said there was one other relevant matter and asked whether the defendant was of previous good character. Mr. Samson said his client, now in his early 40s, had no previous convictions. 

After the sentence was handed down, Mr. Samson told the magistrate he had instructions to appeal the matter. 

Clerk of Court Tabitha Philander explained afterward that Magistrate Donalds was appointed and sworn in earlier Thursday morning. Her instrument of appointment extended only to sentencing on this case and would have covered any later date if sentencing had been adjourned. 

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