Following a judge-alone trial in Grand Court, Clayburn Willie Ebanks was found guilty of wounding his brother in a fight captured on CCTV.
In his judgment delivered on Tuesday, Justice Roger Chapple found Mr. Ebanks not guilty of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, but guilty of simple wounding.
Mr. Ebanks had always acknowledged inflicting the injuries, but said he did so in self-defense.
He also denied having a knife on him – he said that during the fight he had picked up something from the debris on the road and anything could have been there.
The judge pointed out that, when self-defense was raised, it was for the prosecution to prove that the defendant was not acting in self-defense.
The charges arose from an incident that occurred around 8 p.m. on Nov. 28, 2017, in the vicinity of the brother’s place of business on Martin Drive, off Shedden Road, in George Town.
Justice Chapple heard evidence on Oct. 1 and adjourned the matter so that he could write out his reasons for the various conclusions he reached.
In reading his decision, he summarized the situation as it unfolded. The relationship between the brothers was acrimonious, he indicated, and an argument developed that evening, apparently about the care of their elderly mother.
Mr. Ebanks is now 46, his brother 57, and their mother 88.
Mr. Ebanks chose not to give evidence in the trial.
The judge said that, overall, he found the brother to be an honest witness.
He had conceded that he armed himself with a fan belt because he saw a knife in his brother’s hand.
He also said, effectively, that emotions had boiled over.
The situation between him and Mr. Ebanks had been going on for years and that night it had erupted.
Justice Chapple said he was unable to dismiss the possibility that the complainant was the initial aggressor, a view that was supported by the CCTV footage. Mr. Ebanks did have welt marks on his shoulder and upper arm.
The brother’s injuries were far more serious.
Two wounds to his chest required surgery to stem what was thought to be arterial bleeding. Doctors said the injuries were consistent with having been inflicted with a sharp object.
Questioned by police soon after the incident, Mr. Ebanks said he had defended himself and his brother got cut. The judge said the word “cut” implied a knife. Police did not find a knife on him, but they believed he had thrown it away.
The high-quality CCTV had been of considerable assistance, the judge noted. It showed Mr. Ebanks taking something from his right-hand pocket. The thing caught the light source and supported him having a knife at an early stage of the incident.
The CCTV also showed Mr. Ebanks chasing his brother several times.
Justice Chapple said he was sure that Mr. Ebanks was not acting in self-defense, and that he foresaw some harm would result from his actions.
On the question of whether Mr. Ebanks intended to cause such serious harm as happened, the judge was unable to say he was positive the defendant had that intention. He therefore found him guilty only of “wounding simpliciter.”
Crown counsel Toyin Salako, who prosecuted the case, told the court that Mr. Ebanks had been convicted by a jury in September on a charge of wounding with intent.
She and defense attorney Crister Brady questioned how the defendant should be sentenced.
Justice Chapple said he was leaning toward the view that one judge should sentence for both matters, but he would approach the judge who had presided over the jury trial and get his view.
Mr. Ebanks was remanded in custody for mention of his matters on Oct. 26.