(CNS): A West Bay man serving time at HMP Northward for armed robbery who assaulted another inmate had another six months added to his existing ten-year term Tuesday. When Ryan Ebanks punched Jeffrey Barnes, who is serving a life term for serial rape, in a dispute over jailhouse drugs, the fight was caught on CCTV. Although the attack was initially believed to be much more serious, the prosecution was unable to sustain a charge of grievous bodily harm due to lack of evidence and Barnes’ reluctance to testify. Ebanks was eventually charged with actual bodily harm and pleaded guilty on the eve of his trial.
With the injuries sustained by Barnes said to be relatively minor coupled with Ebanks’ decision to concede guilt, albeit at the last minute, visiting judge, Justice Michael Mettyear, handed down a sentence at the lower end of the scale but not before warning Ebanks that things could have been far more serious and that he needed to watch his future conduct as there was no room for violence in the prison.
The CCTV footage showed Ebanks punching Barnes and wrestling him to the floor outside the cells, after which he stepped over his fellow inmate and left him lying on the floor. Following the incident, the prison stated that Ebanks was uncooperative but the court heard that Barnes was also reluctant to pursue the case against Ebanks and claimed that the dispute had been resolved.
Noting Ebanks’ long and violent rap sheet, Justice Mettyear also dismissed the his claims that he was learning something from his time in jail and said his prison record suggested that this was “wholly untrue”. He also noted his concern that Ebanks had admitted using drugs on the day of the assault in the prison and that drugs were the cause of the altercation between Ebanks and Barnes.
In response to claims that Ebanks was provoked into the violence, the judge said that prison could be an intimidating and difficult place where provocation may be a common factor but aggression and violence were not the answer.
Ebanks is currently serving a ten-year sentence for an armed robbery at a West Bay grocery store, which happened in 2011. As a result of his long list of violent offences and a previous robbery conviction, he was originally given a 15-year term but that was overturned by the Court of Appeal and reduced to ten years. Following the sentencing hearing Tuesday, his total sentence is now ten years and six months.