Inmate serving life queries ganja charges

Prison inmate Kurt Fabian Ebanks, who was brought to Summary Court on Monday, questioned the point of trying him on ganja-related charges when he is presently serving a life sentence.

Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez advised him that a part-heard trial had to be completed that day, so his matter would be given another date.

“Is it in the public interest?” Ebanks asked. “You’re wasting court time for a spliff of ganja.”

Ebanks, 38, is charged with possession of 18 grams of ganja at Northward Prison on Nov. 5, 2013. He is further charged with doing an act intending to pervert the course of public justice. The allegation is that, on Nov. 5, with intent to obstruct, pervert or defeat the course of justice, he threw a package containing ganja towards the Alpha Wing gate when approached by a prison officer.

Crown counsel Greg Walcolm said prosecuting drug offenses in prison was definitely in the public interest. In this particular case, he explained, there were two other defendants and the alleged offending behavior was a series of acts. He told the court he was seeking to have the three men tried together.

Ebanks could have elected to be tried in Grand Court, but he chose to remain in Summary Court and entered not guilty pleas in July. A majority of his court appearances were via video link, but because his trial was scheduled, he was brought in person this week.

The charges were set for mention on Dec. 17, with a trial potentially set for Feb. 5, 2015.

The defendant was 24 when he and another person received the mandatory life sentence in 2001 for the murder of taxi driver Curtis Seymour in a robbery that netted $63.

Ebanks appeared in Summary Court in January this year, when he pleaded guilty to possession of less than a gram of ganja. When he told Magistrate Foldats that he was doing a life sentence, the magistrate explained that the law does not allow him to give a sentence consecutive to a life sentence. He said he would not even hear the facts leading to the charge, and imposed a concurrent term of one month.

There is an incentive for Ebanks not to re-offend, the magistrate suggested at the time. Five or 10 years from now, he indicated, there will be changes in the law that provide for parole eligibility. An inmate with a clean prison record will have a chance because there will be parole provisions in place that will enable a person serving a life sentence to apply.