Counts reduced in robbery

| 12/02/2014

(CNS): Two men caught up in the getaway from a robbery of a supermarket in North Side last year have pleaded guilty to much lesser charges than the original counts of robbery and possession of imitation firearms after the crown reviewed the case. Odain Lloyd Ebanks (18) and Ian Fernando Ellington (29) appeared in court Wednesday for sentencing after one of the men admitted handling stolen goods and the other to being an accessory after the fact, as the prosecutor said there was no evidence that they were part of the robbery. Originally, the two men were accused of ‘casing the joint’ before the crime and then waiting to help the robbers' escape but, the court heard, changes in the case resulted in new charges.

Ellington and Ebanks were originally arrested along with Courtney Bryan, who has admitted being the main perpetrator in the armed daylight hold up at Chisholm’s supermarket last September, in which he and a teenager, who cannot be named, stole a phone, jewellery and cigarettes to the value of over $1,400. They escaped in a car that had been seen by the shop owners shortly before the crime, which they considered suspicions and had made a note of the licence plate.

As a result of that quick action the police soon picked up the speeding getaway vehicle on Frank Sound Road and pursued the car with the assistance of the police helicopter.

Ebanks has now admitted entering the store prior to the robbery and purchasing a patty, as well as touching one packet of cigarettes during the chase after the robbers had entered the car he was in as the front passenger when they were picked up by Ellington.

The crown accepted the plea that he had no knowledge of the crime until the robbers entered the car and on realizing the cigarettes he had handled were stolen, he threw them out of the window during the high speed chase. While his lawyer said he accepted that he should not have disposed of the evidence, he did so in panic when he learned how the other men had acquired them.

Meanwhile, Ellington, who admitted picking up the robbers, has denied entering the shop, and with no identification or any other evidence to say he was the second man, the crown accepted the plea that he too was not part of the planning in the crime. They accepted that he had picked up the two robbers as they fled from the supermarket on the afternoon 23 September without any admission of what point Ellington knew about the crime.

As the driver of the vehicle, which was involved in the high speed chase with the police, including a patrol vehicle and the police helicopter, Ellington will still be looking at a harsher penalty than his co-defendant, who has now servedalmost five months in jail on remand on a single count of handling a stolen packet of cigarettes, though the crown claimed it was a more serious offence of handling given the closeness in time and geographical proximity of Ebanks to the crime.

Although his defence attorney admitted that the crime just passed the custody threshold, given his client’s previously completely clean record and a social enquiry report indicating that the crime was utterly out of character for Ellington, he asked for a lenient sentence.

Ellington was described as having a good job in construction and a man who has worked without incident since leaving school at various skilled jobs, including carpentry and more recently tiling. A father and a well-liked previously responsible citizen, whose employers are keen to have him back, the lawyer said Ellington, who was his family’s only breadwinner, was well aware he had let everyone down.

The judge who heard the case raised a number of concerns about the sudden change in charges but after discussions with counsel, stated that he would deliver his sentence ruling next Wednesday afternoon.

Courtney Bryan was given six years in jail, reduced to four for his guilty plea in the case and three years for possession of an imitation weapon to run concurrently, while the youngest member of gang will now face trial. Although the 16 year old, who cannot be named, admitted taking part in the robbery from the time he was arrested, he has denied having a weapon of any kind. The crown has refused to accept a plea just to robbery without the weapon and as a result the youngster will now stand trial on that count.

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