Prisoner freed by mistake gets suspended sentence for ATM burglary

Defendant made good use of time out of prison, attorney says

A man who pleaded guilty to burglary and damaging an automatic teller machine in 2014 was given a two year suspended sentence Monday after attorney John Furniss told the court how well the defendant had been doing since he was released from custody by mistake.

Through an administrative error, the correct paperwork was not sent to Northward Prison.

Mark Kennedy Bush had admitted his role in the ATM incident that occurred at the Marquee Plaza in the early hours of Feb. 28, 2014. He had also pleaded guilty to theft of a bracelet and stones valued at $3,500 in 2011. After a recent trial, Magistrate Angelyn Hernandez found him guilty of handling stolen goods in 2013.

Mr. Furniss said Bush had heavily relapsed into cocaine use when he received a phone call around 2 a.m. telling him to come to the Marquee Plaza. “He could have said no, but he got involved,” the attorney reported.

He and Crown counsel Aaliyah McCarthy gave details to the court.

The Security Centre notified police at 4:46 a.m. of the alarm at the Cayman National Bank facility in the plaza off West Bay Road and Lawrence Boulevard. Two officers responded and saw people wearing dark clothing, gloves and masks near the ATM facility. The bank had leased or owned a room in the plaza and the ATM was behind an electronically operated door that required a bank card for entrance.

The ATM had been pulled toward the door, but police arrived before it could be placed onto a truck parked nearby. The people ran when they saw the police, but one officer caught up with Bush, who became exhausted and fell. While running, he had tried to throw away a mask and gloves.

No money had been removed from the ATM. The damage caused, as stated in the charge, was valued at $25,450.

Bush was held in custody while a female defendant was granted bail. Mr. Furniss represented the female in a later trial and she was found not guilty.

Meanwhile, Bush remained in prison for four months. Then a preliminary inquiry was held into charges against Bush and two other people regarding the burglary of another ATM in Savannah. The magistrate found there was insufficient evidence and that matter did not proceed.

Through an administrative error, the correct paperwork was not sent to Northward Prison. With no authority to hold Bush, prison officials released him.

Mr. Furniss said Bush, now 44, had begun tackling his drug addiction by seeking counseling in prison. He continued counseling after his release and attended an anger management program. He attended church regularly, appeared in court whenever required and had endeavored to put something back into the community by working with Meals on Wheels. Most importantly, he had stayed out of trouble for the last two and a half years, the court heard.

The theft charge arose from a situation that started when a man gave Bush a bracelet and some scrap gold to make the bracelet thicker and heavier. He also provided some red stones to be set into the bracelet. Bush accepted the items but then lost them. He said he would repay the owner, but eventually gave him only about $150. Bush pleaded guilty to theft on the basis that his efforts to make good did not work out.

The handling stolen goods referred to jewelry and items stolen in a 2013 residential burglary in West Bay.

The magistrate accepted that Bush’s offenses arose from his drug problem. She said sentencing was very difficult because the court must exercise justice but also have some compassion. And when a person is trying, some assistance must be given, she added.

For the ATM offenses, she imposed a sentence of two years, but suspended it for two years. Conditions include continuing in counseling programs and staying drug-free. “If you fail any drug test, you’re going to prison,” she warned.

For the handling offense, she ordered Bush to perform 180 hours of community service. For the theft, she imposed a prison term of two months.

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