Lifer faces potential inequity over tariff

| 05/07/2017 | 24 Comments

(CNS): Bryan Powell, who is serving a life sentence for the murder of a taxi-driver in January 2000, has had his tariff hearing postponed due to a potential serious inequity that may arise between him and his co-offender, Kurt Fabian Ebanks. Both men were convicted in January 2001 of stabbing and killing Curtis Seymour in a violent robbery gone wrong, but Ebanks could be released in less than two years while Powell could go on to serve over twelve years or more for the same crime.

Both men were given mandatory life sentences, but with the change in the law in 2015 that requires all lifers to be given a minimum term tariff, the cases of those already serving are being reheard for sentencing. However, the legislation has paved the way for exceptions for lifers who had applied for release under the governor’s parole licensing system before government passed the new Conditional Release Law.

Ebanks had made that application but Powell, who suffers from significant mental health problems, had not.

Six inmates who were serving life terms have already been released by the governor’s office in conjunction with the parole board since 2013. In 1991 Britain forced Cayman to abolish the death penalty for murder and a mandatory life sentence was imposed instead, but in reality no one has died behind bars while serving a life term in Cayman.

Ebanks is now going through the same process that the previous six inmates released on licence went through. He has been given an indication that if all goes well, he could be released by 2019, equating to a less than 20 year term. The new Conditional Release Law calls for a minimum tariff of 30 years for murder unless there are specified exceptional circumstances that could lead to a reduction or an increase.

Powell appeared Friday before Justice Alex Henderson, the judge in his original trial, who raised his concerns that the situation presented a real danger of a “manifestly unfair” situation, arising because Powell had not written a letter to the board and Ebanks had. Powell’s attorney pointed out that there has to be parity between the co-offenders but in this circumstance there was the danger that Powell could serve far longer for his part in the same crime as Ebanks.

Seeking clarity on Ebanks’ situation regarding the previous parole board, which is now the Conditional Release Board, Justice Henderson said he was adjourning Powell’s case until October. He directed the crown to establish whether Ebanks will be released or not and what the decision of the parole board amounts to in law.

The judge pointed out that if Ebanks’ application for consideration under the old system for release has essentially failed, as he was not released immediately upon making his application, then he should face sentencing alongside Powell. But he said that if the board has agreed to Ebanks’ release and he is going to be given a date, Powell must be given the same tariff time.

Justice Henderson said he would not sentence one offender to a term that is completely different to another in a joint enterprise case. “I am not prepared to treat Powell in a way that will create a manifestly unjust disparity in their sentences,” he said.

The introduction of a tariff is not a release date. It is merely a minimum term that must be served before a prisoner can be considered for release. But the six men released since 2013 all served less than the recommended 30 year tariff set out in the new law.

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Category: Courts, Crime

Comments (24)

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  1. Exodus 21 says:

    Aren’t we a christian based society?

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    • Anonymous says:

      We are a christian based society, the bible says a eye for a eye, hand for a hand and a life for a life.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Then Powell should just write a letter and go through the same process? He shouldn’t just be allowed out without an assessment.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    If you take a life yours should be taken. That’s how I feel.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    A convicted murderer is saying his sentence is “manifestly unfair”? Why not ask the dead victim’s family about what’s “fair”?
    A convicted murderer with mental health problems…just what we need back out on the streets.

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    • Anonymous says:

      7:26 am, Agreed, what about the dead man and his family rights, it seems all the good laws are for the criminals. As crimes gets more the laws for criminals gets more easy on them. Thats one of the reasons crime in these islands is gotten out of hand. Check Singapore, and see their laws and their crimes for population compared to Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      If he has mental health issues he needs treatment, even if that is treatment that does not permit him to enter the community, not imprisonment.

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  5. Oh no says:

    Why do you think crime has increased?

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    • Anonymous says:

      12:00 am, you must be smoking something to even ask that questIon.,’WHY DO YOU THINK CRIME HAS INCREASED”

  6. Anonymous says:

    So Curtis loses his life in a vicious & callous murder for a reported $62 and these two scumbags get to be released back into the community??? Smh! I get that we should allow “human rights” to be excercised and in my opinion thats being done by doing away with the death penalty. But why should they have the right to be free from prison, when they decided to plan a robbery, violently stab the victim and then drag his body from his vehicle that’s when they lost “all their rights” Curtis didn’t get a second chance at life and his family continues to mourn his loss. So, when the lowlifes that brutally murdered Estella reach their 20 years are we going to set them free too?

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Seems like the judge’s sentence is one thing and the governor’s clemency is another. Why wait for the parole board. The governor can still commute Ebanks, no? Also why do they necessarily get the exact same sentences?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    Not just a convicted murderer but one with mental health issues…..although it could be argued that all murderers have mental issues to one degree or another.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    OMG I can’t believe this. We will have a convicted murderer roaming amongst us on the streets.

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    • Marcia says:

      You sound like an idiot, at least you know him. What about all those importations…scheee!!!

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    • LD says:

      You do have

    • Anonymous says:

      You can stay right there one of the convicted murderers named in this article is working at the Turtle Farm yet our youths of Cayman- with no record- can’t get a job! How bout dah?! No convicted murderer should serve less than the 30 years.

      • fred says:

        The only two named are still in prison, so you must mean someone already released under the old legislation, when the new legislation specifically provides for a 30 year minimum, Making your point redundant.

        • Anonymous says:

          No, Fred. That is not what I meant which makes your comment redundant. One of the inmates named in this article is gaining work experience at The Turtle Farm, whilst serving a sentence. Read and comprehend na?!

      • Anon says:

        Sorry to inform you that the work he was doing at the cayman turtle centre was totally free. He is due to be released as stated in the article so the work he was doing was a form of reintegration and rehabilitation. I hope that serves as clarity. Unpaid work for 8hours a day all he gets there for free is lunch.

        • Anonymous says:

          Thanks for clearing that up as you can imagine the surprise the family members of the late Curtis Seymour must feel going there and possibly running into one of the killers who lured and then brutally murdered their family member. But hey, all he is getting is free lunch so, no biggie!

    • Anonymous says:

      Anonymous 8:51pm, a convicted murderer WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES!! roaming amongst us who will not be able to get a job and therefore will have no means of financial support except for begging off his family. Let’s hope they step up and take responsibility.

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