Retired seafarer gets community service for $180 theft
(CNS): A 78-year-old man was given 100 hours community service by a Grand Court judge last week after stealing $180 from a liquor store where he was working post retirement as a messenger. Henry Bodsit Ebanks had pleaded guilty to the theft, which took place in May 2008 while he worked for Jacques Scott in retirement as a messenger. Although theft normally carries a custodial sentence, Justice Carol Beswick found that the small amount of money taken, his guilty plea, his previously unblemished record and a low risk of reoffending made the retired seafarer a candidate for a non-custodial sentence.
Among the many mitigating factors she spoke of was the high regard he was held in by his community and the character references given for Ebanks, which included his local pastor as well as one from the country’s premier, McKeeva Bush.
The judge noted that theft had to be deterred given Cayman’s standing as a financial services centre but she said this was not a case that would be expected to impact on the economy in general or on the public in particular. She said that as a messenger, paid $8 per hour, Ebanks was not in a significant position of trust and had held no lofty positions at the firm even before his retirement.
The judge said the incident was one offence and he had paid back the money he stole. Furthermore, at 78, as he was no longer seeking employment, he did not pose a risk to the business community.
“It is my view that the circumstances of this case should not result in immediate imprisonment, and applying the law as I understand it, the appropriate sentence is one of giving age-appropriate voluntary service to the community,” Justice Beswick said.
“Accordingly I impose a sentence of 100 hours of community service, which will assist the defendant to repay his debt to society and will serve as a reminder ... that the crime of theft was indeed committed and carries with it consequences, no matter how small the amount stolen.”
Ebanks was caught stealing the cash on the firm’s newly-installed camera. During his rounds collecting money from the various stores, he placed the money in a deposit bag down his sock. He was confronted and the money was found there.
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