Three weeks after the police apprehended four men suspected to be involved in an armed robbery at a hinterland airstrip, the police file which was handed over to the court is empty.
It is alleged that these men on November 11, 2019, at Matthew’s Ridge, North West District, while being armed with guns, robbed Jose De Costa of $95,000 cash and a quantity of raw gold amounting to $18M, property of Deonarine Sooklall.
It was made known by the police prosecutor that the file is not completed, as there are no statements from any witnesses in the matter, not even from the investigating rank of the case. According to the prosecutor, only the police facts of the case are in the file.
The suspects, who were jointly charged, were arraigned in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts. The men charged are Basdeo Francis, 37, a businessman, of Skull Mountain Arakaka, Region One; Kurt Nedd, 27, a 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.
On the first occasion that the case was called the men had pleaded not guilty to the charge. They have been remanded to prison since.
However, at the recent court hearing, attorney Jerome Khan who represents Francis and Singh, renewed his bail application for his clients. He said that the quantity of gold that was found in Francis’s car belongs to his client. He presented the court with a license for the business of Francis which he said his client sells to his customers in return for raw gold.
The lawyer said the raw gold is then sold to gold dealers in Port Kaituma. In fact, he claimed that the gold found in his client’s car was actually being taken to be sold to these dealers.
But the license which was presented to the court was expired, and the attorney said at the time it was being renewed, and officials had recently visited the business place to conduct inspections for the renewal of the license.
To this the magistrate indicated that was irrelevant, as it is expired, and as such she ordered for the men to be further remanded until the next court date. The case was adjourned until today.
The court had heard that Campbell is a close friend to the victim and that he (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 arrangements 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 guns towards the victim and told him and others to lie down on the ground.
The suspects went into an ice-cooler and removed the quantity of gold and made good their escape.
A Police Constable 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 at the same 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.
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