Under heavy police escort, the three men accused of staging an armed robbery at the Princess Casino last Friday, arrived at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
Upon entry into the court compound, the men shielded their faces with clothing to cover up their identity. Hurriedly, they marched into the police lock-ups where they were held until afternoon when they were placed before Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan.
Wayne Griffith, 29, of Bagotville, West Bank Demerara; Junior Stewart, 30, of Lot 141 Thomas Street, Kitty, Georgetown; and Andre Blackman, 35, of Lot 6 Middle Street, McDoom, East Bank Demerara stood calmly in the prisoners’ dock as a charge of robbery under-arms was read to them by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.
The charge alleged that on April 29, at Providence, East Bank Demerara the men while being together with others, and armed with guns, robbed Daniel Roberts and Alfea Gajadhar of $8,951,000 – property of the Princess Ramada Casino.
They were not required to plead to the indictable charge and were remanded to prison until May 20, for reports.
According to police, four men arrived at the Ramada Hotel in a white motorcar bearing a fake number plate. They were armed with guns and entered the casino and discharged several rounds. They relieved a security guard of his shotgun and ordered patrons and staffers to lie on the ground. It was reported that the accused also held a cashier at gunpoint and made off with local and foreign currency.
Three of the alleged bandits reportedly escaped on foot, while police were able to apprehend Griffith since he was allegedly left behind in the casino. Stewart was reportedly arrested in a house last Sunday with a large quantity of wet money and other valuables.
Blackman, a former security guard at the Casino allegedly provided the gunmen with vital information about the gambling spot’s operations. During the ordeal, Police Lance Corporal Andrew Richardson and four hotel staffers sustained gunshot wounds.
Griffith and Blackman were represented by Attorney George Thomas. In a bail application for Blackman, Thomas told the court that there is no evidence that his client was physically a part of the crime. He added that Blackman never provided police with any written or caution statement in relation to the alleged robbery.
The Attorney also made a request for his client to be given special care if he is to be incarcerated because threats have been made to his life.
According to Thomas, Griffith has marks of violence about his body. He said that these were inflicted on him by investigators while he was in custody. As a consequence of the beatings, the lawyer stated that his client is now urinating blood and made a request for him to be seen by a doctor.
Attorney Mark Conway represented Stewart and stated that his client had been in custody since Sunday. The lawyer also alleged that Stewart had been beaten at the hands of police.
Police Prosecutor, Corporal Deniro Jones strongly opposed bail for the trio citing the gravity of the charge and penalty attached to the offence. He pointed out that an offence of such nature attracts punishment of up to life imprisonment.
Jones further highlighted the fact that a firearm was used during the commission of the robbery. According to the Prosecutor, investigations are still ongoing in the matter and that charges of attempted murder and possession of illegal firearm and ammunition are likely to be laid against the accused. Griffith, Jones stated, shot the police officer during the robbery causing him to be hospitalised. He disclosed that Griffith was caught inside the casino with a gun.
But Griffith quickly refuted the prosecutor’s claim. He told the court, “Me aint shoot nobody.”
Further supporting his objections, the prosecutor informed the court that Griffith and Stewart currently have matters of possession of illegal firearm and ammunition before the court. He stressed that it was while the men were out on bail for that offence, they committed this robbery.
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