…Chief Magistrate tells Lawyers
Kaieteur News – The men accused of carrying out the armed robbery at Kaieteur News’ Saffon Street, Charlestown office were on Thursday further remanded to prison until December 15, 2022.
The Prosecution made partial disclosure of the statements in the case and on the next court date, the remaining evidence will be handed over to the Defence.
Those on remand are: Ryan Wharton, 33, a former Kaieteur News Research Assistant of R4-574 Canary Street, Tucville, Georgetown, 35-year-old Joshua Junor, Kaieteur News Security Guard of Middle Road, La Penitence, 25-year-old Ivor Belingie called ‘WildLife’ of Back Circle, East Ruimveldt, 23-year-old Lemuel Grant, a clerk of Russell Street, Charlestown and 36-year-old Harry Stongster of Hyde Park, Timehri, East Bank Demerara (EBD).
The Defendants appeared virtually before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
The Lawyers for Grant, Junor and Stongster renewed their bail application but they were all denied by the Chief Magistrate. While the Lawyers contended that their clients enjoy the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and that they are entitled to a fair trial in a reasonable time – the Chief Magistrate denied bail highlighting that in the interest of public safety during this time of the year,she will not be granting bail but noted that she will entertain another bail application on the next hearing with new contentions.On Thursday, the Prosecution also amended the charge to show that the total value of the items stolen from the media entity during the wee hours of October 10, 2022 amounted to over $50 million. The five men were jointly charged for robbery under arms and it is alleged that between October 9, 2022 and October 10, 2022 at Lot 24 Saffon Street, Charlestown, while being armed with a dangerous weapon, the Defendants robbed Kaieteur News owned by Glenn Lall of $38.8 million, a Republic Bank cheque valued at $9.1 million, US$9,306, one black .32 Taurus pistol serial number FHS60749 valued $350,000, ammunition valued at $480,000, one firearm case valued at $25,000, two handles valued at $10,000 and six magazines valued at $60,000. The charge also stated that the men allegedly robbed Noel Junor, the other security guard who was on duty of $5000 and Wayne Lyttle, a Graphic Artist, who was also on duty, of one cellular phone valued at $44,000.
The Prosecution then made an application for the matter to be disposed of summarily. This means that a request for the matter to be tried at the Magistracy level as opposed to the High Court.
Chief Magistrate McLennan granted the application for the matter to be tried in the Magistrates’ Court and as such the charge was re-read to the Defendants who all pleaded not guilty.
Moreover, Collis Haywood, 40, a Chef of Lot R2-578 Canary Street, Tucville and Kevin France, 35, a Taxi-Driver of East Ruimveldt, Georgetown is the two other suspects who were charged separately for the role they played in the crime.
According to reports, during the wee hours of Monday, October 10, three bandits entered the Kaieteur News office and stole a safe containing millions of dollars along with a firearm and ammunition.
Wharton was the first to be arrested. While in custody, he reportedly confessed to plotting the crime with Junor who was one of two security guards who were on duty during the commission of the robbery – and several others.
According to police, Wharton and Junor had confessed to planning and carrying out the crime while their accomplices admitted to playing their roles as well. Wharton and Junor had reportedly been planning to rob the company a while back but had only finalised their scheme the Sunday morning prior to the robbery. They contracted Stongster and Belingie to be their accomplices and borrowed a Toyota Spacio motorcar from Grant to transport them to and from the Kaieteur News office.
During the wee hours of October 10, they put their plan into motion. Junor turned up for work duties early while Wharton drove the borrowed car with Stongster and Belingie as passengers to the location. Belingie entered the building and held their accomplice Junor, as well as the other security guard on duty, and the graphic artist at gunpoint, while Wharton and Stongster headed upstairs of the two-storey building and broke the door of the company’s Accounts Department.
They also broke a drawer, stole petty cash and fetched out the safe which contained the other items that were stolen. The two men loaded it into the car, which was parked just outside the Kaieteur News office, and then escaped with Belingie. Junor remained and waited until his accomplices were a safe distance away before contacting his superiors to inform them that he and his colleagues had been robbed of cellphones and $5000 cash.
After splitting up the cash at Wharton’s home, a sixth suspect, Haywood, was contacted and given the stolen firearm and ammunition to keep. He reportedly hid them in his backyard. Investigators were able to crack the case after individuals were able to identify Wharton as one of the bandits seen in footage of the robbery. As it relates to France, he was reportedly the suspect who provided the firearm that was used to carry out the robbery.
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