Paul Anthony Hume Ebanks received prison terms totaling 14 years on Thursday after a jury found him guilty earlier this week of 26 counts of obtaining property by deception and one count of theft of a passport.
With a deduction for time spent on curfew with electronic monitoring, the final sentence was 12 years, nine months.
Justice Michael Wood noted that the maximum sentence for obtaining property by deception is 10 years, but added, “Ten years is not nearly enough.”
He pointed out that Ebanks, at age 50, had “an appalling record for dishonesty” with 56 previous convictions and that number had now grown to 83.
The judge said Ebanks had callously and ruthlessly targeted vulnerable people who were “seeking the Holy Grail of permanent residence or status.”
Between June 2012 and December 2014, Ebanks obtained various sums of cash, totaling $164,000, from people by falsely representing that the money was required payment for legitimate grant of Caymanian status or residence.
Justice Wood said the individual sums Ebanks obtained were not huge, but were significant to the victims who gave him their savings and in some cases borrowed money to give him.
The judge pointed out that Ebanks, at age 50, had “an appalling record for dishonesty” with 56 previous convictions and that number had now grown to 83.
The judge arrived at a total of 14 years by making some sentences concurrent and some consecutive.
Defense attorney Laurence Aiolfi asked the court to give half-credit for the 1,099 days Ebanks had worn an electronic monitor.
Crown counsel Toyin Salako did not agree and produced documents to show that Ebanks was compliant only 58 percent of the time.
Further, she pointed out, Ebanks had been on 24-hour curfew, which meant staying home except to go to the hospital, visit his mother or consult with his attorney. But several of his offenses had been committed as a result of contacts Ebanks had made while at the hospital, Ms. Salako reminded the court.
Justice Wood deducted one year and three months from the time Ebanks was on curfew, so the final sentence was 12 years, nine months, minus time spent in custody.
The judge quoted from a recent decision of the Court of Appeal, which in turn had cited the remarks of Justice Charles Quin in a similar scam case. He said Ebanks’s offenses attacked the integrity of the Immigration Law and tarnished the image and reputation of the Cayman Islands.
In contesting these charges, Ebanks had sought to damage the reputation of other people, the judge pointed out. He had accused people of lying, planting evidence or conspiring against him.
The judge described Ebanks’s hypocrisy as breathtaking.
Ebanks had said it was not fair that his own status had not been regularized. Justice Wood told him, “Someone less deserving of status is hard to imagine.”
The aggravating features of his offending included the fact that he had come out of prison on license less than a year before he began re-offending; he had multiple victims and they were all vulnerable.
The judge noted advice Ebanks had received when Justice Zaila McCalla sentenced him to six years imprisonment for identical offenses in 2006; she had told him that if he came to court again for similar offending, he would not see the light of day for a long time.
“You failed to heed her warning,” Justice Wood told Ebanks.