One week after the police apprehended four men suspected to be involved in an armed robbery at a hinterland airstrip, the suspects have since been jointly charged. Yesterday they appeared before the court and were remanded to prison.
Charged is Basdeo Francis, 37, businessman, of Skull Mountain Arakaka, Region One; Kurt Nedd, 27, police constable of 1597 18th Street, Diamond, East Bank Demerara; Ramesh Singh, 45, a truck driver, of Port Kaituma; and Leon Campbell, 26, a gold miner of Port Kaituma.
The four defendants appeared before Principal Magistrate Faith McGusty in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
The charge allege that on November 11, 2019, at Matthew’s Ridge, North West District, while being armed with a dangerous weapon, a gun, they robbed Jose DeCosta of $95,000, cash and a quantity of gold amounting to $18M, property of Deonarine Sooklall.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Francis is being represented by attorney-at-law Jerome Khan, who highlighted that the quantity of gold that was found in his client’s car belongs to his client.
Khan noted that apart from Francis running his business he uses his goods in exchange for gold from miners in Port Kaituma. The attorney also stated that the amount of gold that was shown in the press is not all of the gold. Some 30.oz is allegedly missing according to Khan.
Attorney-at-law George Thomas is representing police constable Nedd. He told the court after making a bail application for his client that the police apprehended Nedd some distance away from where the incident happened.
Campbell is being represented by attorney-at-law Adrian Thompson who also made a bail application for his client.
Singh who is currently unrepresented explained to the court that after four months of pleading for a job with Francis when he finally got a job it ended with him in the lock-ups.
“Francis called me last Friday and asked me if I’m working and I told him no. He then asked me if I want a work and I told him yes. He then told me that I have to transport this vehicle and pick up Fine Man…this man here I don’t know his right name,” Singh added while pointing to Police Constable Nedd.
Police prosecutor, Seon Blackman, objected to bail being granted to all of the defendants based on the value of the articles, the punishment the offence attracts and the fact that guns were used in the gold heist.
The court heard that Campbell is a close friend to the victim and that Campbell was aware of the gold that was to be transported on the day of the incident.
According to reports, the victim owns a gold mining company and made arraignments for a private plane to transport the gold from Matthew’s Ridge Airstrip to another airstrip in Guyana.
While waiting on the plane the suspects, masked and armed with guns, arrived at the airstrip and attacked the victim. The suspects then pointed the gun towards the victim and told them to lie down on the ground.
The suspects went into the ice-cooler and removed the quantity of gold and made good their escape.
Police constable McGregor acted on information received and intercepted Francis in his motor car. The police then asked to conduct a search on the car and three gas bottles were found with a quantity of gold concealed inside.
According to the police, when the gold was found Francis made an oral statement admitting to the police how he got the gold and he then accompanied the police to his home and showed him the guns and ammunitions that were in a barrel. The weapons were suspected to be used in the robbery.
Francis was slapped with two other charges–possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
The first charge stated that on November 11, 2019, at Skull Mountain Arakaka, North West District he had in his possession one .223 revolver and two 9mm pistols without being a licensed firearm holder.
The latter alleged that on the same date and location, he had in his possession 120 rounds of 5.56 and 25 rounds of 9mm.
Francis pleaded not guilty to both charges after they were read to him. His attorney stated that his client never took the police officer to his home and showed him any gun or ammunition.
After listening to the facts of the charge and what the attorneys had to say, Principal Magistrate McGusty remanded the defendants to prison. The matter was adjourned to November 26, 2019, and transferred to Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
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