Guilty plea entered in cocaine conspiracy

Defendant gets maximum discount for not going to trial

Alexander Adrian Ebanks, 25, pleaded guilty in Grand Court on Monday to conspiracy to import a kilo of cocaine.

Justice Michael Mettyear noted that the maximum sentence for conspiracy is 10 years. Given other aspects of the case, it was not realistic for Ebanks to have entered a plea before Monday, the judge said, so he was prepared to give a full discount for the plea. A reduction of one-third would bring the sentence to just over six-and-a-half years, he concluded.

That term was arrived at after defense attorney John Furniss asked for what is known as a Goodyear direction – an indication of the maximum sentence the court would impose if a guilty plea would be entered.

After Justice Mettyear heard submissions from Mr. Furniss and Crown counsel Eleanor Fargin, he gave his answer. The charge was then put and Ebanks answered “Guilty.”

The charge was conspiring with others to import 1 kilo of cocaine from Jamaica into the Cayman Islands during a specified period in 2015.

Others charged are appearing in court this week.

The charge of conspiracy was laid because the Crown could not prove that an importation occurred, but they could prove there were discussions to import cocaine.

Justice Mettyear noted that he had initially expressed doubts about giving a Goodyear direction for one defendant on a multi-defendant indictment. However, he decided to do so because of the time and money that would be saved by the court.

For Ebanks, the prosecution and defense agreed that the tariff sentence is eight years.

In giving his decision, the judge took into account other charges against this defendant and Ebanks’s desire to know what his total sentence might be. The judge therefore raised his starting point from eight years to 10 years before applying the discount.

He noted that Ms. Fargin and Mr. Furniss had agreed that Ebanks was best described as a retailer of drugs, rather than a wholesaler; his offending was akin to being a high-level street dealer involving others, of whom he appeared to be the organizer.

Other charges against Ebanks include possession with intent to supply quantities of ganja, cocaine and tryptamine pills.

There is also a charge of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Mr. Furniss explained that Ebanks was previously on bail from the Summary Court and one of his bail conditions was to be tested for drugs. He is accused of communicating with someone in the U.S. about obtaining a device that would cause the drug tests to come back clean. An alternative was a drink to dilute a urine sample so that it tests clean. Justice Mettyear asked if the Crown knew whether there are such devices or drinks.

Ms. Fargin said she was aware that there were purported to be such items.

Details of Ebanks’s offending will be given at his sentencing hearing, which may take place Thursday afternoon or next week. The final sentence cannot be more than the approximate six-and- a-half years the judge has already stated. It could be less, depending on any mitigating factors.

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now