Cocaine conspirator given 6.5-year prison sentence

Other alleged conspirators to appear in court Friday

Alexander Adrian Ebanks was sentenced on Thursday to 6.5 years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to offenses that included seven charges of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs.

The individuals named in the charges are scheduled to appear in Grand Court on Friday, Aug. 26. Crown counsel Eleanor Fargin described some of the alleged co-conspirators as people who received drugs from Ebanks and then went on to supply them to other people.

She named other defendants as “runners” who were used to fulfill a supply request.

She and defense attorney John Furniss agreed that Ebanks’s behavior put him at the level of a drug retailer or high level street dealer.

By way of background, Ms. Fargin explained that police officers went to a George Town apartment on Oct. 22, 2015.

The apartment had been rented in mid-July that year by Ebanks and Jaesha Hendrix. On arrival, officers saw Ebanks outside; he denied being Alexander Ebanks and claimed he lived in another part of the island. However, officers recognized him and he had a key to the apartment.

On searching it, officers found 4.16 ounces of cocaine, the street value of which was $6,650; 22 Tryptamine tablets, with a street value of $555; and 2.51 grams of ganja. Other items included utensils such as a scale, bags and a pipe.

At the police station, Ebanks provided PIN numbers for two cellphones taken from him.

Officers recovered more than 438 different communications from the phones. Ms. Fargin said 56 individual customers were identified. The phone activity dealt with in the various charges against Ebanks spanned a period from July 2015 to the day before Ebanks’s arrest in October.

One charge of conspiracy involved converting criminal property. It involved changing CI$1,000 to US$1,200.

Another charge was conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. It involved efforts to obtain a device or drink that would provide a false negative when Ebanks would be asked for a urine sample for drug testing.

Ms. Fargin also advised that the Crown was seeking a confiscation of assets hearing in connection with Ebanks’s admitted drug offenses.

She referred specifically to a vehicle and a bank account. Justice Michael Mettyear set the hearing for Oct. 20.

Mr. Furniss said his client was anxious to have the matter completed and the judge agreed that the hearing could be brought forward if all the paperwork was in place.

After Ms. Fargin’s summary of offenses, Mr. Furniss spoke in mitigation. He told the court that Ebanks had attended UCCI for a year and then had gone to study construction and architecture at a school in Rhode Island, U.S.

He did qualify and came back to Cayman, where he applied for a draftsman position with the Public Works Department. He was told he did not have enough hours worked with a local company, so he started working construction.

He met certain individuals and became involved in drugs.

At age 25, Ebanks had no previous convictions except for one consumption of ganja, the attorney pointed out.

Ebanks pleaded guilty on Monday to a separate charge of conspiracy to import a kilo of cocaine. The Crown could not say with certainty that importation had taken place, but a substantial amount of cocaine (more than 4 ounces) was found in his apartment in October.

Justice Mettyear had been asked to give a Goodyear direction – that is, an indication of what the maximum sentence would be if a guilty plea would be entered. Mr. Furniss indicated that guilty pleas would be entered to all charges if sentences did not exceed the maximum the judge decided on.

With the longest sentence for conspiracy being 10 years, Justice Mettyear said he would allow a full one-third discount for the guilty plea, which would take the sentence to just over six and a half years.

On Thursday, he imposed sentences of five-and-a-half years for each of the charges of conspiracy with intent to supply controlled drugs.

These sentences are concurrent with each other and also concurrent to a sentence of four years for conspiracy to import the cocaine.

Charges relating to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and converting criminal property drew sentences of 12 months, concurrent to each other but consecutive to the five-and-a-half years.

Justice Mettyear said he was considering the principle of totality.

Sentences for possession of drugs and utensils were also made to run concurrently.

A charge of destroying evidence received no separate penalty. Ebanks had admitted grabbing and crushing a tape recording of his interview at the police station.

Time Ebanks has spent in custody will count toward his sentence.