Woman pleads for mercy after machete rampage

| 14/07/2014

(CNS): A 39-year-old homeless woman pleaded guilty on Friday morning to a number of offences after a ‘topless rampage’ in George Town in May, when, half naked, she stole food from Café Sol and Burger King, smashed up a display cabinet and threatened people with a machete. During her sentencing hearing Debbie Ebanks, who suffers from mental health issues and long term drug abuse problems, begged the judge for another chance. Although Ebanks has been in Fairbanks women’s prison for the last two months and is receiving treatment, she has been bullied in the prison and was the victim of a nasty scalding at the hands of another inmate.

Justice Charles Quin said he would defer his sentencing decision regarding Ebanks’ case until next week in order to consider whether she could continue her treatment outside of the jail.

Defence attorney Fiona Robertson, from Samson McGRath, who is representing Ebanks, explained to the court that Ebanks has never been properly cared for regarding her mental health and drug abuse problems, as a result of her efforts to self-medicate. The lawyer said that the authorities had often used the prison system to hold Ebanks when she has been ill and charged her with crimes so they could treat her mental health condition.

Extremely remorseful for what she did, Ebanks explained to the court some of the long term issues she is dealing with and her efforts to get clean and give up not just the illegaldrugs and alcohol but also smoking.

She explained how she has been consistently in and out of prison or hospital for the last 15 years. She said, however, she is bullied in the prison because she is different and was finding it very difficult. Ebanks pleaded with the judge for a community-based punishment rather than a jail term as she said her uncle had offered her a place to live, a job and she was receiving support for her treatment.

Ebanks was hospitalized after she was scalded with hot water thrown on her by another prisoner. It is understood that Ebanks was in a state of distress at the time and the inmate had heated water in a microwave, which she threw at Ebanks to shut her up. The incident demonstrated once again the long noted problem that the women’s facility is inadequate to deal with inmates like Ebanks who are suffering genuine mental health problems.

“If we needed to hold someone completely separately, we can hold them on their own but what we can’t do is have somewhere quiet where we can deal with them,” Prison Director Neil Lavis said at the time as he admitted the prisons limitations. “We do end up with prisoners with mental health issues and we try to deal with them as best we can.”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    its a crying shame cayman chooses to bury its head in the sane when it comes to caring for their mentally ill. shame on all politicians over the last 20 years

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman is not burying its head in the sand. Steps are being taken to address many of these issues through the newly passed Mental Health Law and the newly formed Mental Health Commission. Patience but you will soon see fruit. 

  2. Anonymous says:

    yet we like to classify ourselves as not being a 3rd world counrty, we still have alot to learn a long road ahead of us. Proper facilities need to be implemented and beloved west bay road needs to be cleaned up

  3. Anonymous says:

    What can we expect from representatives who have refused to implement a law protecting those with mental illness and disabilities for the past THREE administrations? I have a family member who has worked as a volunteer withe disabled persons and on the development of this law for the past 15 years! Each administration can pass laws giving themselves raises and titles, yet they can't or won't protect the most vulnerable of their people. Disgusting.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Don't expect the PPM to do anything unless they think there are votes in it for them.

  5. Anonymous says:

    What would you expect.

    Just look at how humainly they treat their pets, sorry animals………That is a sign of an advanced christian society.

  6. Anonymous says:

    For far too long Cayman has been ignoring the level of mental illness in our society in particular with our young people. I personally know of 5 women between the ages of 35 and 40 who are being treated in Jamaica for many years which doesn't help are abused and not helped. Many of these women are drug addicts and may have been sexually abused.  We have build a mental health facility, no country can prosper without healthy ctizens so I plead with The Premier and Mnister Rivers to make this a major priority for 2015. I hope that Debbie will make a healthy recovery and lead a positive life as I've known her since JACP she's a loving person who needs help.

  7. Anonymous says:

    All the posts here are compassionate and right. Ms Ebanks has been treated in a deplorable manner. In any place with an inkling of how to behave she should have a guardian appointed, whose first job would be to think long and hard about suing government for placing her in danger. She's plainly mentally ill. She shouldn't have been in jail at all and she shouldn't be enduring a prosecution. Does she even have the capacity to plead guilty of these offenses, let  alone be sentenced for them?

    • Anonymous says:

      All the posts here are compassionate.     I read the news of the Island and the people I hear alot of frustration on how the people are treated and the Island is governed .I think  that if the politians  would spend more time reading these comments they would learn better how to serve the Islands /people , rather than spending time and money overseas learning how those  countrys govern thier country / people they would be more bennifical to the Islands. If they do not read your comments , then everyone get on your feet and march peacefully to them so they can see your face and hear your voices and dont forget to take the News media with you . I promiss that all your frustrations will go away .

  8. Anonymous says:

    It is a shame that we can ignore the human rights of the mentally ill! It's a shame that we have some of them walking the streets and conducting themselves in ways that embarrass us. It's a shame that we are spending public money on the niceties of life while these poor people are denied basis needs, compassion and care. Mr Minister for health ans welfare where are you?

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with your post except the line "embarassing us". The mentally ill people are not embarassing- they have issues that , I would hope, people understand and would not be embarassed about.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have to agree the mentally ill iisn't "embarrassing us", its the government that is an embarrassment for not helping the mentally ill

  9. Anonymous says:

    To deal with Ebanks????? What about the person who warmed the water up in a microwave and threw it at her?  I hope she was seriously charged, not just a slap on the wrist?  Scalding hot water???? Ebanks is lucky she didn't sustain worse injuries then she has.  The  cayman islands should be ashamed of themselves.  You have mentally ill people walking all over west bay road, in town, west bay, and they are always ignored until something happens.  The mental illness problem has been here for many many many years and no government entitity wants to deal with it.  Would this be a Human's Right issue?

  10. Anonymous says:

    It is a national disgrace that we still have no proper facilities for our mentally ill.  We have human rights and all of the other nonsense that makes us feel that as a society we have raised ourselves up to the standards of other countries, but the reality is we treat the most vulnerable with disdain and as long its not in our face and not directly bothering us, who cares.Time to wakeup and address our most vulnerable.   

  11. Anonymous says:

    It is obvious this woman is in need of medical, psychiatric and drug addiction assistance and cannot be turned loose upon society until she gets the help she needs.

    • Anonymous says:

      Where do YOU suggest we send her? We do not have a proper mental health facility in the Cayman Islands.

      • Anonymous says:

        I suggest a proper mental health facility.Putting mentally ill people in prison is wrong. Just how the government has avoided the creation of such facility is a natonal disgrace.