Robber asks for special credit for helping police

Three men to be sentenced in July for 2012 BritCay robbery

A man convicted of robbing a courier outside of the BritCay building in 2012 is asking the court to reduce his sentence based on assistance he provided police, his attorney said.

Defense attorney Clyde Allen argued that the assistance John Phillip Cohen Ebanks provided days after the incident should be treated as an exceptional circumstance that would reduce his sentence.

Ebanks, 52, appeared in Grand Court on Wednesday.

In July 2013, Ebanks pleaded guilty to the Oct. 4, 2012 robbery and to possession of an unlicensed semiautomatic pistol. But Mr. Allen pointed out that Ebanks had admitted his role as driver of the getaway car when he was interviewed by police days after the incident.

Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards said Ebanks expressed willingness to give evidence for the crown against other participants in the robbery.

“He has been of significant assistance,” she confirmed. “Without his willingness to assist, police would have failed to identify two of the three other defendants.”

Two other men – Manuel Ramirez Carter, 33, and Brandon Reno Liberal, 27, – who had initially pleaded not guilty to the robbery and firearm charges, subsequently changed their pleas to guilty after receiving an indication that their maximum sentence would be seven years. Justice Charles Quin set sentencing for July 8 for all three men.

The robbery charge was stealing CI$8,117 and US$593, the property of BritCay, from a named courier and putting him in fear of being subjected to force. Carter was the gunman who approached the courier and Ebanks was his driver. Liberal and another man were in another car, which picked up Carter and Ebanks after they abandoned the vehicle they had used for the robbery.

After hearing Ms. Richards’s summary of the robbery and Ebanks’s witness statements to police, Justice Quin told Ebanks, “It’s regrettable that more people don’t have your courage. The court thanks you.”

Mr. Allen pointed out that the Firearms Law provides a mandatory sentence of seven years on a guilty plea unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The attorney said Ebanks had come forward and helped police, notwithstanding threats to his life. His client has been kept at George Town Police Station since October 2012 because of concern for his welfare.

Mr. Allen said Ebanks initially agreed to be involved in the robbery because he wanted money for his mother’s medical expenses. He received $1,000, which he used to pay bills and pay back money he had borrowed to buy food for her; he spent the rest on drugs. He had been addicted to cocaine and said that Liberal had given him drugs.

He did not know until the day before the robbery that a gun would be used, but Liberal had given instructions that the gun not be fired, so he didn’t think anyone would be shot.

Justice Quin commented, “The best way of making sure nobody will be shot is to not have a gun.”

Mr. Allen said that since being in custody, Ebanks had quit drug use without any therapy and had been no trouble to anyone. Since the robbery, his mother had died.

A fourth defendant has been scheduled for examination by a psychiatrist to determine his fitness to plead.

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