Robbers’ companion placed on probation

Defendant spent six and a half months in custody

A man who admitted handling stolen goods – a pack of cigarettes – following a robbery of a North Side store last year has been placed on probation for two years.

Odain Lloyd Ebanks, 19, will spend the next year on a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew as part of the two-year probation order.

He and three other males were originally charged with robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit robbery in relation to a holdup at Chisholm’s Supermarket in North Side in September 2013.

Ebanks pleaded not guilty to those charges, but in February admitted dishonestly assisting in the disposal of stolen goods.

The crown accepted his plea and last week Justice Alexander Henderson imposed probation. Ebanks has been in custody since his arrest on the day of the robbery, September 23.

Defense attorney Amelia Fosuhene told the court that the time Ebanks had already spent in custody had had a “very sobering and salutary effect” on him.

Of the other three defendants, Courtney Mason Bryan, 20, pleaded guilty in October to both the robbery and firearm charges; he was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Ian Ellington, 29, pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact by driving the getaway car; he was sentenced to two years imprisonment. A juvenile in the case has not yet been dealt with.

Reading from the basis of Ebanks’s plea, the judge said Ebanks accepted that he was a passenger in the front seat of the car when the robbers got into the back seat. He did not take part in the robbery; he learned of it afterwards. While in the car, he was handed a pack of cigarettes which he believed to be stolen. Cigarettes were among the items stolen from the store, along with cash, a cell phone and jewelry from the owner’s granddaughter, with a total value of $1,495.

Ebanks accepted that he disposed of the cigarettes handed to him by one of the robbers. He learned of other stolen items as they were being thrown out of the car windows.

Crown counsel Candia James said Ebanks was one of two men who entered the store between 3:30 and 4 p.m. and he had purchased a patty. The owner thought their behavior was suspicious and she made a note of the vehicle license number when they left. About 20 minutes later, two masked men entered the store and robbed the two women. One of the women called 911 immediately after the robbers left and police dispatched vehicles and their helicopter. The Air Support Unit saw items being thrown from the vehicle. The vehicle was eventually stopped in the vicinity of High Rock, on the south coast in East End.

Ms. James said the area was searched and a box of cigarettes was recovered. It proved to have a fingerprint on it that matched Ebanks.

Justice Henderson asked about the basis of plea – that Ebanks learned of the robbery while he was in the front passenger seat of the car. Ms. James said the crown had no evidence to contradict this.

Ms. Fosuhene told the court that Ebanks had worked on boats taking tourists for tours and this job was still open to him. He had minor offenses, but nothing related to dishonesty. He had fallen into this situation because of his associates. She submitted references from people who appreciated that he was no angel, but that he did have good values, came from a good family, and was hard working.

In passing sentence, Justice Henderson said the circumstances were somewhat suspicious. It may be that Ebanks did have some prior knowledge of the robbery, but the basis of plea was that he did not know and he had to be sentenced accordingly.

The judge said it would be wrong in principle to impose any further term of imprisonment, since the time Ebanks had been in custody already was equal to a nine-month sentence less one-third for the guilty plea.

Having regard to the basis of plea, Ebanks’ age and minimal previous record plus character references, the judge said he was satisfied the appropriate sentence was two years probation.

Conditions include reporting to a probation officer as required and not being in possession of any weapon, including a knife. Ebanks may have a knife only at meal times for the purpose of consuming the meal.

The judge noted that he was not imposing house arrest, as he wanted Ebanks to work and be out in the daytime. He imposed a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, requiring that Ebanks be inside his place of residence during those hours for the first year of his probation.

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