Archive for October 13th, 2014

Drug mule gets 12 years

| 13/10/2014 | 11 Comments

(CNS): Kenecia Melissa Millwood (24) from George Town has been given a twelve year jail term after being convicted of importing almost three kilos of cocaine from Colombia hidden in the wooden slats of three hammocks. Visiting judge Justice Ingrid Mangatal described the potential harm to Cayman from the substantial amount of drugs the woman had attempted to import as immense. However, the judge noted that the young woman was a drug mule whose role in the drug trafficking was a lesser one and whose circumstances in life had led her to being vulnerable at the hands of those higher up the chain.

The judge stated that sentencing is never an easy task, before she handed down thesignificant prison term for the woman, who, the court heard, had already suffered significant violence and abuse in her life to date.

“I accept the role you played would be considered a lesser role and you appear to be a vulnerable and easily exploitable person,” the judge told Millwood, who has no previous convictions despite her very difficult life

“I take into account your unfortunate and abusive childhood, which lacked parental guidance and support, and you found yourself assuming parental responsibilities of your siblings at a tender age, and have been, since a teenager, in dire financial straits that misled you to engaging in sexual acts for money.”

The judge noted that the woman had serious mental health problems and had been diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress and personality disorders as a result of the violent, sexual and emotional abuse she had suffered growing up.

The court heard that Millwood had attempted to take her own life on a number of occasions and had indulged in self harm. Her own mother also had suffered from mental health issues and as a result, while still very young herself, had taken care of her three younger brothers. Millwood had held down several jobs since leaving school to provide for the young children in her care, but she had also supplemented her income as a sex worker.

The court heard during the trial that the man who may have arranged the drug importation, known as ‘Beanie’ or Wayne, also appeared to act as a pimp for Millwood, seeking out clients.

Despite the woman’s clean record, her vulnerability, mental health problems and appalling early life circumstances, the judge said Millwood had committed a serious offence.

Justice Mangatal spoke of the need for a deterrent in such cases and pointed to aggravating circumstance of the cocaine being concealed in a sophisticated way inside the framework of hammocks, as well as the large quantity that the mule had been given to carry, though there was no evidence that Millwood had any idea at all of the quantities involved or how the drugs were packed.

As she handed down a dozen years of imprisonment to the young woman, who stood quietly with her head down as she received her fate, the judge said she hoped that Millwood would take the time to consider her offence and “ponder long and hard” so as to never find herself on wrong side of law again.

During the trial the jury had heard that the woman had been stopped at the airport, and when the hammocks were x-rayed, officers found 2.86 Kilos of cocaine. Millwood denied any knowledge of the cocaine and said that the hammocks were gifts for some of her family members.

She said that the idea had come from her friend “Beanie”, the man who the court heard was a one-time boyfriend and pimp to Millwood. She was taken to a store by the cousin she said she was staying with but didn’t see the hammocks that she picked out until she got to the airport in Colombia ahead of her flight home to Cayman. Millwood said she had arranged for them to be varnished and her cousin collected them for her.

However, BBM messages between herself and Beanie implied that she may have known that there were drugs in the hammocks.

Relate article on CNS: Jury finds drug mule guilty

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Local actress performs on London stage

| 13/10/2014 | 2 Comments

(CNS): A talented young Caymanian actress appeared in the first stage production of What's Eating Gilbert Grape at Bridewell Theatre, London, which she described as “the most incredible experience in my life”. Melanie Ebanks played the part of ‘Bonnie Grape’, the morbidly obese widowed mother of Gilbert (played by Johnny Depp in the 1993 movie version) and his mentally handicapped younger brother, Arnie (played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who was nominated for an Oscar for the role). Bonnie, while clearly loving her children, struggles with depression and rarely moves. The part was described as “very emotional” by Ebanks, who wore a ‘fat suit’ on stage for the part. The play was adapted by Alex Howarth from the critically acclaimed screenplay by Peter Hedges. (Photos by Robin Savage)

"It has been the most incredible experience in my life,” Ebanks said. “Being in a world stage premier was an awesome experience. I was able to develop the character and make it my own. I feel blessed to have been a part of this amazing production.”

The play, which ran from 2 to 11 October, was produced by the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, where Ebanks attends.

See a Cayman27 interview with Ebanks.

Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts Facebook page

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