Court sets lowest life tariff for 2000 murder

| 09/11/2017 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Bryan Roland Powell (37), who was 20 years old in January 2000 when he and Kurt Fabian Ebanks murdered taxi driver Curtis Seymour, has been given the lowest tariff so far for a life sentence under the Conditional Release Law. He and Ebanks stabbed and killed Seymour in a robbery where they took just $63. At the recent tariff hearing, the presiding judge ordered that Powell should serve a minimum of 26 years for his crime. However, the case proved to be particularly challenging under the new law, since his co-defendant, Ebanks, is being dealt with under the old legislation, creating the possibility of significant disparity in the time that the two men will serve for the same crime.

The issue has been compounded by the fact that Powell is suffering from severe mental health problems.

In coming to his decision about Powell’s situation, Justice Alex Henderson, the trial judge who convicted both defendants in 2001, explained that because Ebanks is being treated under an entirely different regime regarding potential release, he had to consider those circumstances in Powell’s case as well.

Ebanks could leave jail well before the 30 year standard life tariff that was established under the Conditional Release Law. The judge therefore had to also ensure that Powell’s sentence was not longer than the time Ebanks will serve, even though it is not known when his co-defendant will be released.

In an effort to ensure there is no significant difference in the sentences, especially given the mitigation that Powell was just 20 at the time of the crime — much younger than Ebanks — and had a far shorter rap sheet, the judge handed down the lowest tariff so far in a conditional release hearing.

Ebanks’ release will be decided by the parole board under the previous legislation; the average time for killers serving mandatory life terms who have been released early on licence under that older regime has been 26 years. It was that yardstick that Henderson used to impose a tariff for Powell.

“It would be manifestly unjust to impose upon Mr Powell a minimum term that necessarily results in a significantly longer term of imprisonment than any Mr Ebanks will serve,” the judge stated. “I consider the need to avoid an unjustified disparity to be an exceptional circumstance, a mitigating factor, and one to which I give considerable weight.”

Powell’s severe mental health problems were also noted by the court as the probable reason why he did not make the same application as Ebanks. But his condition is also cause for concern over his future release, as professionals believe he would pose a danger to society in his current state of health.

Although Powell was not diagnosed with any mental health issues before his trial, following his conviction and after serving about a year in HMP Northward he was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. He has been treated with anti-psychotic drugs but there has been no improvement over the 15 years since his diagnosis.

Doctors confirmed prior to the conditional release hearing that Powell’s condition “is not amenable to treatment, so the prognosis is very poor”, which the judge noted in his ruling, noting that he would only be released with the agreement of the Conditional Release Board.

Justice Henderson said, “There would need to be a marked improvement in Mr Powell’s mental state, and clear evidence of that before the board could release him. The safety of the public is of paramount concern.”

Powell is one of around two dozen men who have previously been handed mandatory life terms, mostly for murder, before the law was changed to introduce a minimum tariff that defines the length of a life sentence. As a result, the convicted men have begun appearing before the courts in special hearings.

Before Powell’s case the shortest tariff handed down to a serving killer was 28 years.

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Category: Crime, Health, Mental Health, Prison

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    WTF!!! What kind of government do we have in Cayman that is going to let murderers go free!!!! This is a shame and a disgrace and a slapped in the face of the Caymanian people. To have justice serve you the people need to get up and stand up for your rights. This is sending the wrong message to our young people to killed a human being and get away with it!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Again, where are the rights for Curtis & his family? Curtis was driving a taxi at night to earn an honest income, These two low life’s Called his taxi, lured him into thinking they were legitimate customers (Powell personally knew Curtis from when Curtis worked at the Boneventure boys home where Powell spent time as a teenager) they planned & brutally carried out their plan by stabbing Curtis only to rob him of $63.00 and then dumped his leafless body by a dumpster, drove his blood stained taxi to dump it and then made their way home to West Bay where they carried on with their life (All of these facts were presented during the trial). Anyone who knew Curtis knew all they had to do was ask Curtis for the money and he would have given it to them! This was a senseless murder! They not only robbed Curtis of the life he had planned they robbed Curtis’mother of her son, they robbed his son of having a father, they robbed his brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, of someone they adored. Powell & Ebanks robbed many people that night of future plans with Curtis. They decided to brutally stab curtis 4 times without any provocation, I have NO sympathy for either of them and in my opinion they lost their “human rights” when they decided to act like animals.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Please for the sake of public safety, do not release these murderers back into our society.

    They are where they belong; locked away in cages like the monsters they are.

    One of them was being re-integrated back into our society by working at the Turtle Farm but he does not deserve that opportunity!

    You took a life; someone’s brother, son and father therefore the least you could do is rot behind bars just as you let Curtis’ lifeless body rot in a dumpster.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Bryan Powell was a madman even when he was in primary and middle school with a temper and violence you could not control. When the schools tried to deal with him and preserve the safety of other students by suspending him and having him taught in special classes that ”great educator” Roy Bodden kept asking parliamentary questions about why Caymanian students like him and the late Ronald Bennett were being denied an education by the school authorities. Pure political mischief making with a bit of Roy’s racism thrown in to make the expat teachers feel they were failures…..not of course these little Caymanian thugs and their parents.

    • Anonymous says:

      So true, 6:14. I wonder if you know that the same Roy when he was an MLA and also running the car dealership took on a Bodden Town 12 year old out of control student Dolton Robinson under his wing to prove to these teachers that all these kids needed was a bit of local cultural understanding from a black man like him. It lasted about a week with Roy totally unable to deal with him. Dolton Robinson is now one of our major adult criminals, regularly in and out of Northward. Somehow, Roy never mentioned these things in these books he self published.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have not actually met anyone who has ever read poor Roy’s books.

      • Rick says:

        I suggest we hang Roy for trying with these hopeless young people. How dare he try to save them?

        I also remember him taking on one young juvenile burglar, gave him a job at Nissan, brought him into the football team in BT and now he is a productive adult and respected member of society. Maybe we should give Roy time-off for that and any other successes?

    • BELONGER says:

      I knew Brian Powell from the time he was about 10 years old and he was very unstable from then.

      If after all these years he cannot be treated with positive results for his mental illness, this is a case of where he needs to kept in a mental facility for his own protection and that of society.

      If he is released from prison, he will surely injure or kill someone again. There are some people who cannot live in a normal society due to a medical condition and Brian Powell is surely one of them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    they shouldnt even step foot on cayman community, whats stopping them from murdering for a buck fifty all over again? tariff my ass, bring death penalty to these scums instead of spending our money to support their non useful space in society.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This tariff business is total BS. Human rights my ass!! They killed Curtis brutally and dumped him in a dumpster! He was a good person who was working honestly and they deceptively called him for a taxi ride which was a ruse to rob and murder him – for $63! They should both rot in Northward!!

    • Anonymous says:

      12:47 pm, agreed 100%, they should be given a life time with hard Labour. Think of the dead one and his family. The guide line should be when the dead one comes back to life or when the murder dies to be let out of prison.

      • no one is safe says:

        I understand that while in prison he used a sharp object to cut open his own stomach as he said he was trying to get the demons out. Can you image a convicted killer did this to himself what he would do to me or you or our children. Society needs protection from him.

    • Anonymous says:

      Totally unjust??WTF, they brutally killed this man, pre mediated and they are worried about their rights?? Let them rot and die in Northward. They should never be released. The laws in Cayman SUCK!!!


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