Two people were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment on Friday after they were found guilty in March of robbing Mitzi’s Fine Jewelry, a store on West Bay Road that the owner has since closed.
Madeinys Ebanks-Pol, 39, and Adrian Adela Gea, 33, had pleaded not guilty to the charge that on Nov. 18, 2015, they stole jewelry valued at approximately $516,201 belonging to Mitzi Callan, and that they did so by using force against the clerk in the store.
They chose to be tried by judge alone. After hearing the evidence, Justice Stephen Hellman said he was satisfied that Mr. Gea was the robber and that Ms. Ebanks-Pol was the lookout, who also supplied Mr. Gea with the motor vehicle and license plates used in the robbery. The defendants were remanded in custody and sentencing adjourned so that social inquiry and victim impact reports could be obtained.
On Friday, by way of a video link, Justice Hellman said he was satisfied as to their roles and he held them equally responsible. He did not know their motivation, but it had been an extremely serious offense. There had been a psychological effect on the victims and significant impact on the business, he said. The effect on Ms. Callan had been life-changing, the judge commented. There had been a breach of trust by Ms. Ebanks-Pol, who was a former employee, leading Ms. Callan to lose trust in people in general.
As Crown counsel Scott Wainwright noted in his summary of the case, Ms. Callan had closed the store down after the robbery because of the detrimental cost. No items were recovered.
Another court heard previously that Ms. Callan had designed the jewelry she offered for sale; the incident had affected her creativity.
Mr. Wainwright said Ms. Callan had asked for compensation and he was making that request to the court, but he appreciated that it might be impractical because he was not sure the defendants had any assets.
Justice Hellman said it was for the defendants to prove that they did not have assets. Mr. Wainwright observed that Ms. Callan might feel she had a remedy in the civil courts. Defense attorney Nicholas Dixey spoke in mitigation for Mr. Gea, who had no previous convictions.
He pointed out that there had been no violence, but acknowledged there had been a threat of violence because of the presence of a firearm or imitation firearm. He accepted that the object, whether real of not, had been put against the clerk’s body at the beginning of the robbery, but it had been in the robber’s waistband for the most part.
The wearing of a mask was an aggravating feature, Mr. Dixey acknowledged, but other potentially aggravating features were not present, such as a gang of robbers. The robbery was of some duration – about one hour – during which there was conversation between the clerk and the robber that led her to think she would not be killed, and so her level of terror diminished, the attorney said.
Mr. Gea had been a hard worker and came from a stable background. He had supported his mother and there was no indication of any debt problem, so the motive for the robbery was “something of a mystery,” Mr. Dixey said. He accepted a sentencing range between nine and 14 years, but asked that the sentence imposed not deprive Mr. Gea of all hope.
This defendant had been charged also with possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit the robbery. Because of the way the charge was worded, the judge had found him not guilty, but using an item to instill fear was an aggravating factor, he indicated.
Defense attorney Keva Reid spoke for Ms. Ebanks-Pol. She agreed that her client had been employed by Ms. Callan approximately for one year before the robbery, but was not employed at the time. Ms. Ebanks-Pol was a Cuban national who had been in Cayman for 20 years with permanent residence. Her position was that it was a robbery of a small business, committed with a degree of planning that was “less sophisticated.”
Ms. Reid asked the judge to consider mitigating factors set out in a social workers report and a psychological report that dealt with the period during which the offense was committed. She noted that the value of the items stolen was a retail value and there had been no objective assessment.
Earlier in the hearing, Mr. Wainwright noted that Ms. Ebanks-Pol had two previous convictions for theft from the same employer. She had stolen items and pawned them, but assisted in their recovery. She had received a six-month sentence.