A GDF officer and three other ranks were on Thursday last set free in the Matthew’s Ridge Magistrate’s Court of all charges stemming from an alleged robbery committed on a mining camp in the Baramita/Five Star area, Region One in May 2009.
The four soldiers, Lieutenant Lancelot Gordon, and Lance Corporals Shawn Lord, Orwin Woodruffe, and Teon Moffat first appeared before Magistrate Allan Wilson in June 2009, charged with robbery under arms. The robbery was allegedly committed against Brazilian miner Francisco Dos Silva. The soldiers reportedly robbed him at gunpoint of 30 pennyweights of gold valued at $246,000.
The soldiers were represented by defence attorneys Vic Puran and Gregory Gaskin who successfully obtained bail for them in the sum of $100,000 each. At the time of the bail application, Attorney-at-Law Gregory Gaskin had argued that the charges were trumped up by the GDF high command for public relations purposes.
He also pointed out that the evidence available did not support the charge, and that the questionable legal status of the Brazilian miner made it unlikely that the matter would have gone to trial. Further hearings were held in Matthew’s Ridge in August and November 2009, at which the Virtual Complainant failed to attend and at which applications were made for a dismissal for want of prosecution.
At the November hearing, the Prosecutor advised the court that the DPP had instructed that all charges be withdrawn against the number four defendant, Teon Moffat, but that an additional indictable charge of demanding with menace be placed against the other three accused.
However, on February 4, last, the Virtual Complainant appeared in court for the first time to declare that he had no desire or intention to pursue the matter, nor did he wish to furnish any evidence against the accused.
Magistrate Wilson, after inviting comments from the Prosecutor, Assistant Superintendent Edmund Cooper, and Defence Counsel Gregory Gaskin, dismissed the summary charge of Robbery under Arms and discharged the accused from the indictable charge of demanding with menace.
All four soldiers had been interdicted from duty since the middle of June 2009. Lance Corporal Teon Moffat has recently been re-instated to duty with full benefits.
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