Court of Appeal upholds 10-year sentence for serial burglar

Court house in George Town

The Court of Appeal upheld a 10-year prison sentence for a serial burglar who broke into an elderly man’s home before assaulting and robbing him armed with a machete he found in the house.

Ryan Ebanks, who was 40 at the time of the incident, broke into the then 78-year-old victim’s West Bay home on the night of 9 March 2019, according to a transcript of the oral judgment.

The victim, who is said to have been sickly and receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness, lived alone.
The transcript said, “He fell asleep on the sofa. He next recalled being awoken by a loud noise like a bomb. That was the applicant smashing the front door with a concrete block. His face was covered by a handkerchief.”

Ebanks had taken one of the victim’s machetes, which was by the front door, and then proceeded to demand jewellery, specifically a bag containing the items, which Ebanks apparently knew about, according to the transcript.

“The victim, who was unsurprisingly disorientated, told the applicant it was on the dining room table,” stated the file. “On seeing it was not, the applicant chopped at [the victim’s] head with the machete.”

The transcript states the elderly man received cuts to his hand after raising it to block the machete. The victim was dragged in and out of the house as Ebanks tried to find the jewellery. The elderly man grabbed another machete by the door and tried to defend himself and a struggle ensued. Ebanks disarmed the victim and then dragged him outside again to search for more jewellery in his car.

The victim tried to escape and was pulled back inside and hit again, according to the transcript.

The elderly man then “retreated to his bedroom until the house was quiet. He then went to his nephew’s home across the road and the police were called,” the transcript said.

He was taken to the hospital where he was treated for multiple serious wounds, including a fractured skull, and cuts to the head, elbow and knees.

During the original sentencing, Justice Linda Dobbs noted that Ebanks knew that the victim was elderly, living alone, and had a bag of jewellery, so he targeted the man.

According to the transcript of the appeal hearing, “The police had received information that Ebanks had been spotted lurking in the area of the victim’s gate just before the incident.”

When imposing the 10-year sentence, Dobbs started with a seven-year term and then increased it to reflect the severity of the offence.

In coming to her decision, she took into account Ebanks’ 40 previous convictions, which included multiple assaults, robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent. Dobbs also considered the prevalence of robberies and burglaries on the island.

During the appeal of the sentence in September, Keith Myers, Ebanks’ attorney, argued that the judge should not have taken into account the frequency of robberies in Cayman. Myers also argued that the judge’s starting point for the sentence was too high.

In dismissing the appeal, the judges said, “… the sentence imposed by the learned judge was not arguably manifestly excessive”.

The judges added, “It seemed self-evident that this elderly man inevitably suffered very significantly as a result of such a horrific and violent offence”.

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