Witness claims threats made him carry gun

| 23/04/2016 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

Justin Ramoon (far left) and Osbourne Douglas escorted by prison officers as the court visits the scene of Jason Powery’s murder

(CNS): The second of the crown’s eyewitnesses told the court Thursday that he was arrested with a loaded firearm in January because he needed a gun to protect himself because he was giving evidence about Jason Powery’s murder and threats had been made against him, his family and his friends. But Justin Ebanks denied that he needed brothers Osbourne Douglas and Justin Ramoon to be convicted of the murder charge just to help him with his own legal troubles after telling the court that he had seen Ramoon with a gun seconds before Powery was killed.

Giving evidence for the prosecution, Ebanks described the circumstances of the night when his friend Jason Powery was shot dead outside the Globe Bar in George Town last July.

He said that he had not wanted to go out that night because he was on probation and said it was “easy to get into trouble but hard to get out of it”.

Ebanks told the court that when he and Powery arrived at the Globe Bar, where they had stopped to get ganja after planning to go to ‘Gaza Wednesday’ with Jerome Hurlston, he did not like the vibes. However, they stayed and had “a draw in the alley” by the bar, he said.

He recalled how he had seen Douglas give a gun to his younger brother Ramoon, who seconds later shot Powery. He described what Ramoon was wearing, how he took the gun from Douglas, pushed it into the waistband of his pants and swigged down a beer before heading towards the area where Powery was, and then seconds later a shot rang out.

During cross-examination Ebanks was probed about his own troubles.

He denied being in a gang and said that he tried to keep out of trouble. Ebanks said he had a job with Captain Marvin’s, taking tourists to Stingray City and described himself as a hardworking young man. But, he said, he was caught with the firearm because his life had been threatened and he was in genuine fear that he would be killed because he was a witness in the case.

Although the police had promised to protect him after he gave his statement about what he says he saw that night, Ebanks claimed they had done nothing and he was hearing on the street that his life was in danger.

“People were saying they wanted to kill me … and they knew where to catch me,” he said, also noting that when he was arrested he had explained to the police why he had the gun: “I told them I was a dead man walking.”

The 22-year-old West Bayer said he had never committed any crimes with the gun and had never intended to use it or shoot anyone, even though it was loaded, which he said was for his own protection. However, he also revealed that he had the gun in his possession for some 12 to 14 months before he was arrested with it on him in January, implying he had been in possession of the illegal gun well before his friend Powery was killed and he had given a statement to police about the defendants.

As defence attorney Sean Larkin QC, who is representing Ramoon, quizzed Ebanks about gang affiliations, owning guns and his evidence, he suggested that he was blaming the defendants in order to try and get off the gun charges he faced. But Ebanks denied that was why he was giving evidence and said he gave a statement before his arrest.

He told the court he was giving evidence because the defendants “killed an innocent child”.

Before Ebanks gave his evidence Thursday concerns were raised by Ramoon and Douglas’s attorneys that he had been reluctant to come and give evidence and accused a police officer involved in the case of inappropriately talking to Ebanks before he gave evidence “to shore up the witness”, implying that the police were cajoling him to testify while Ebanks was asking for bail in exchange for his evidence.

The lawyers also raised concerns that right before Ebanks, who is currently on remand at HMP Northward, came into the court, the police had allowed him to meet with his brother, who had also allegedly reassured him about giving evidence.

But when Ebanks took the stand, he did not appear as a reluctant witness. He spoke clearly and emphatically to the court, giving detailed descriptions and enacting what he saw on the night of the killing.

Douglas and Ramoon have both denied killing Powery on 1 July at around 10:30pm in the alleyway by the side of the Globe Bar.

The case continues.

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