Bel Air heist trial… Police witness explains high speed chase
The third hearing of the trial involving the persons accused of robbing prominent businessman Malcolm Panday continued yesterday with one new police witness taking the stand to explain his involvement in the high speed chase that led to four of the accused reportedly being cornered in a city hotel compound.
Tactical Services Unit (TSU) rank Constable Kelvin Liverpool presented evidence before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry yesterday. He was led in his evidence-in-chief by special prosecutor Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos.
The policeman alleged that on the day in question while he and another rank were patrolling on motorcycles along Sheriff Street, they received information via their mobile handset and as result of that information, proceeded to Bel Air Park.
The officer said as they reached the Bel Air area, he noticed two vehicles heading towards him at a very fast rate. He said a white Toyota AT 212 motorcar was leading with a silver Toyota Premio trailing. He said as the cars passed, the driver of the Premio signaled him to follow, which he said he did.
He said for some time the two cars raced, taking various streets, travelling along Sheriff Street, into Kitty and then onto Vlissengen Road. The police said all this time, he and his partner were trailing behind the two speeding cars. He then alleged that he saw the Silver Premio park in the middle of Vlissengen Road, in front of the Ocean Spray Hotel.
The TSU rank said that the AT 212 had entered the hotel compound and the driver of the Premio was signaling him to enter the hotel compound.
The police rank said he parked his motorcycle outside the compound gate and then proceeded into the hotel compound on foot.
He said after passing the gate, he noticed four males who had exited a car now heading towards the exit gate; that is, towards him. The policeman said he then yelled to the men, “freeze, police.”The officer said one of the accused, Jermaine Mitchell, pulled out a firearm and discharged two rounds at him. The police said he returned fire and the men ran away and scaled the hotel fence.
Liverpool explained that three of the men jumped the fence while the fourth man took cover in the compound. Liverpool said he too jumped the fence and upon doing so he noticed that a gun was lying in a pathway. He also alleged that the men had some distance in front of him and they had each taken different directions.
He said he continued the chase, and while running, a man of East Indian descent on a motorcycle had stopped him and told him something. Liverpool further said that the man offered him a lift “to the head of Pike Street” where he saw Mitchell lying on the ground, with several members of the public holding onto him.
Liverpool said by that time, a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) vehicle had already come to the scene and the suspect was placed in the van. The police said he walked back to the hotel compound and saw Rabindra Seemangal, who he identified as the suspect who took cover in the compound, in the possession of his colleague who was at his side during the chase. He said two other suspects were also in the compound having been brought in by two separate patrol vehicles.
The policeman concluded his evidence by saying that he took another police rank to the place where he had seen the firearm behind the wall. After the chase, the rank said he played no other part in the investigations.
None of the accused requested to cross examine the witness. Attorney-at-law Randolph Kirton was brief in his line of questioning, and he did so on behalf of his client, Rayon Jones.
The attorney based his questioning on the time the witness had seen the accused and for what length of time.
Re-examination was denied by De Santos. The matter will resume on July 17.
Charged with the offence of robbery are Mr. Panday’s mother-in-law, Chandrada Rampersaud; Hardat Kumar, 23, of Owen Street, Kitty; Jermaine Mitchell, 20, of YY 15 North East La Penitence, Rabindra Seemangal, 20, of 100 Sheriff Street and Rayon Jones of Lot 2 Hardina Street, Wortmanville.
It is alleged that the female accused who had worked at the Pandays’ home noticed that large sums of money were being kept at the house.
It is alleged that the woman after being fired from her job with the family as a domestic aid told persons about the money and they conspired to rob the businessman and his family.
Things went sour when the businessman was able to slip away during the robbery and contact the police. After an alleged chase the suspects were cornered at the Ocean Spray Hotel compound on Vlissengen Road.
Panday’s wife and the hotel owner have so far given evidence in the matter. Mrs. Panday gave evidence as to what transpired in her home during the alleged robbery. The hotel owner gave evidence as to what reportedly occurred in the hotel compound.