Witness rewarded with sizable jail time reduction

| 28/09/2016 | 4 Comments
Cayman News Service

Justin Ebanks

(CNS): A West Bay man who gave evidence in a gang-related killing and helped to convict two men for the murder of Jason Powery was rewarded for his cooperation Tuesday when a Grand Court judge handed down a much shorter sentence in connection with an illegal gun. Justice Charles Quin found that there were exceptional circumstances in the case of Justin Ebanks, and departed from the mandatory minimum sentence for the offence of seven years because the young man was a crucial witness.

Ebanks was handed down an 18-month sentence for possession of an illegal firearm, which was found on him when he was stopped by police in West Bay in January of this year, some months ahead of the trial in which he was a key prosecution witness, at a time when he was facing threats on his life for his decision to say what he saw.

Justice Quin, however, made it very clear that the exceptional circumstances were based entirely on Ebanks’ cooperation with the murder enquiry and his evidence in court that led to the conviction of brothers Osbourne Douglas and Justin Ramoon and not on the basis that Ebanks had the weapon because he had been threatened.

The judge said the issue of defence was not one that could ever justify the movement from the mandatory sentencing, as such a move would “inevitably lead to the further breakdown of law and order”. He said that guns remained a major threat to local security and could “never be tolerated”. But what was needed, and what was vital to addressing the scourge of firearms, was the cooperation of witnesses.

In Ebanks’ case, he was one of only two people who came forward, when many more had seen the murder of Powery in July 2015 outside a George Town bar. The young man was threatened after his identity was revealed for legal reasons, but it did not stop him from seeing the whole thing through and giving evidence in court. The judge described Ebanks as both honest and courageous, and said he had testified in stressful circumstances and that, in light of all of the background, he deserved a substantial reduction.

Ebanks had admitted from the get-go that the old Beretta handgun found on him was his and he was arrested, charged and remanded in custody. Although incarcerated at Northward, the threats to Ebanks continued throughout his time in jail before the trial earlier this year. In his appearance in the dock Tuesday for sentencing, Ebanks appeared with a head injury, which sources told CNS was the result of another prison assault.

But given his crucial cooperation with the authorities, his early admission regarding the weapon and only one old and unrelated conviction, he was given the shortest possible sentence under the circumstances and should be released in a matter of months.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (4)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    he wont earn sjustice Quinn….this was horrible decision this just proves the reason that Cayman need a hard labor camp in the Brac to send these types too. 2-3 years in North Ward and 5 years making big rocks into road fill. he will learn from that…but no Cayman sends them to a hotel in North Ward

  2. Anonymous says:

    I dunno about this. He soon be out and using that illegal gun to kill someone himself. A reduction yes but this is almost no jail time at all.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Majority of these murderers n big time thugs are informants anyway, free up popcaan! Dont feel anyway about sayin what happened.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Action like this would help solve a lot of crime on the Island.

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