-Cop, Rural Constable among four remanded
By Feona Morrison
It was almost a two-hour long court hearing when five men accused of attempting to rob Republic Bank’s Water Street, Georgetown branch appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.
The botched robbery attempt on the financial institution left 25-year-old Agronomist, Elton Wray, dead. He was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire between his accomplices, police and guards attached to the Professional Guard Service (PGS).
Those appearing in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts were Republic Bank employees, Jamal Haynes, 24, of 4 Norton Street, Wortmanville, Georgetown; and Shawn Grimmond of 137 Pike Street, Kitty, Georgetown; Police Constable Anfernee Blackman, 21, of 65 Laing Avenue, West Ruimveldt, Georgetown; Rural Constable Gladstone George, 24, of 55 Princes Street, Lodge, Georgetown; and Keron Saunders, 24, of 59 Burnham Boulevard, Mocha, East Bank Demerara.
Saunders is a cousin of Wray.
Haynes, who was said to have been working at Republic Bank for the past seven years, struggled to walk due to gunshot injuries he sustained to the feet. He was shot during his failed attempt to rob the bank.
Haynes was jailed for a total of 10 years on charges of attempted robbery under-arms; illegal firearm and ammunition possession and unlawful restraining.
It is alleged that on July 4, at Water Street, Georgetown, while armed with guns they attempted to rob Republic Bank. Haynes pleaded guilty and was jailed for two years. The others pleaded not guilty and were remanded to prison until August11.
Police Prosecutor Sergeant Bess related that on the day in question around 07:30hrs, police received a report of a robbery in progress at the bank and responded promptly. Sergeant Bess said that when police arrived at the scene, they were shot at by the perpetrators. The prosecutor related that one of the suspects, Wray, was shot and killed. He further said that Haynes held Tandukar Singh, a Republic Bank employee, hostage and ran into the arcade situated opposite the bank.
Sergeant Bess told the court that Haynes then “shoved” away his hostage and began running through the arcade but was later apprehended by police during an exchange of gunfire. He was found hiding in a stall in the arcade. The illegal gun and ammunition were found lying on the ground next to him, the prosecutor disclosed.
Attorneys-at-Law Dexter Todd, Roger Yearwood and George Thomas petitioned for bail on behalf of Grimmond, George and Saunders respectively.
According to Yearwood, “At no time was Mr. George at the scene of the incident. There is no evidence that he was there.”
George said that his client has been co-operating with investigators. He provided police with a statement outlining the circumstances under which he became involved. The lawyer contended that his client was held at gunpoint and forced to comply. He reiterated that Saunders has a strong alibi.
Todd said that on the day of the incident, his client reported for work at Republic Bank and only became aware of the incident after hearing gunshots. He said that his client willingly went to the police and was questioned over a cell phone that was left on his desk at work. He added that Grimmond never took possession of the mobile device.
The lawyer argued that charges were laid against his client to publicly embarrass bank employees to make it seem as though they are involved in some kind of “net.”
However, the prosecutor disclosed that around 06:00hrs, on the day of the incident Haynes visited Grimmond’s home and gave him a cellular phone to make contact with him and the other robbers.
Cop supplied guns to bank robbers
It was Constable Blackman who supplied Haynes, Saunders and Wray with the guns used to carry out the botched robbery.
This was revealed by Sergeant Bess who said that Constable Blackman also transported the men to the location in motorcar HC 7778.
This was also echoed by Haynes, who disclosed that the police constable disguised himself by wearing a hoodie and covering his face with a rag.
Constable Blackman, the prosecutor said, gave police a statement outlining his role in the robbery attempt.
Another jail sentence was handed to Haynes after he admitted to being in possession of an illegal 9MM pistol and a single round of 9MM live ammunition.
He was jailed for four years for possession of the illegal gun and another four years for the illegal ammunition. However, the prison terms will run concurrently.
He was also fined a total of $180,000.
Haynes will serve six years since the concurrent four-year jail terms he got on each of the illegal arms and ammo charge will run consecutive with the two years jail sentence imposed on him for attempting to rob the bank.
Wanted police, security guards to stop shooting
Haynes told the court that he was desperate for police ranks and PGS guards to stop shooting at him, so he held his co-worker hostage at gunpoint.
He disclosed that the gun had no ammunition because his best friend, Wray had discharged all during a shoot-out with the police and guards.
He said that he and his accomplices were already inside of the bank when they were being shot at. Wray, he related, managed to escape by running out the bank in a southern direction along Water Street.
But he and Saunders, who tried to disguise himself among bank staffers, were trapped inside the bank.
“I started yelling I am staff do not shoot,” he told the court.
Haynes was ordered to pay a fine of $100,000 with an alternative of six months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to unlawfully restraining Singh.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Bess stated that Saunders was apprehended by police after he was observed acting suspiciously. It was revealed that Saunders, who also provided police with a statement detailing his involvement in the crime, admitted to stashing a 9MM pistol in the bank toilet.
Saunders was also slapped with charges for illegal firearm and ammunition possession. He pleaded not guilty and was remanded to prison until August 11.
Meanwhile, Haynes was also charged for shooting at a Police Constable and hijacking the motorcar used to transport them to the scene.
It is alleged that on July 4, at Water Street, Georgetown, he discharged a loaded firearm at Police Constable Lawn Joseph, with intent to maim, disable, disfigure or cause grievous bodily harm. It was further alleged that on July 3, at Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara, while armed with a gun, he robbed Ryan Myers of a motorcar valued $2.9M, a cell phone valued at $25,000 and $19,000 cash.
An unrepresented Haynes denied the allegations
The latter matter was transferred to the Sparendaam Magistrates’ Courts for August 10. Based on reports, this motorcar was hijacked the night before.
Its owner was reportedly arrested after he visited the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown to make a report.
The man was reportedly arrested in relation to absconding from an illegal firearm and ammunition trial which resulted in him being convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment in absentia.
Going to rob customer in ATM
Haynes claimed he had no idea that he was going to rob the bank.
In fact, the injured man disclosed that he thought he was going to rob a customer who was carrying a large amount of cash in the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) unit.
According to Haynes, his role was to facilitate his accomplices with the day-to-day functions of the bank and to identify a particular bank employee who would have been in receipt of a hefty sum of cash that customers would have deposited into the bank over the three-day CARICOM weekend.
Despite revealing all this information to the court, Hayne still insisted that he did not orchestrate the robbery plot and that he only became aware that he was going inside the bank to steal monies from the night safe after shooting at a door in the ATM unit.
While the prosecutor contested that Haynes and Saunders implicated the others in the crime, Haynes denied doing such.
The offender claimed that he had no knowledge of the other persons that Wray, who had a lot of inside information about the bank, included in the robbery.
Nevertheless, the Chief Magistrate having considered Haynes’s early guilty plea did not impose the maximum penalty for each of the offences on him.
In opposing to bail for the defendant, Prosecutor Bess highlighted the seriousness and nature of the offences and the gravity of the charges. He also pointed out that an alleged firearm was used during the commission of some of the crimes, and the fact that lives were endangered by the men’s action.
Sergeant Bess also said that there is a possibility the defendants might not return to court for trial should they be granted pre-trial liberty. It was further pointed out by the prosecutor that the defendants could tamper with the prosecution’s witnesses, some of whom are employees at Republic Bank.
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