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Jan 31, 2023 Court Stories, Features / Columnists, News
Kaieteur News – Former Kaieteur News employee, 33-year-old Ryan Wharton and 36-year-old Harry Stongster of Hyde Park, Timehri, East Bank Demerara (EBD) last week changed their pleas and have admitted to being involved in the October 2022 robbery carried out at Kaieteur News Headquarters, located in Georgetown.
Wharton of R4-574 Canary Street, Tucville, Georgetown and Stongster were both sentenced on January 24, 2023 to 50 and 48 months respectively.
The duo along with 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, and 23-year-old Lemuel Grant, a clerk of Russell Street, Charlestown, were jointly charged last year for robbing the media entity.
Wharton and Stongster are currently serving their sentence; Grant was released on $200,000 bail while the other defendants are still on remand.
According to Attorney-at-Law Eusi Anderson who is representing Grant, the State has acknowledged that there is insufficient evidence against his client. He disclosed that both Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and Senior Magistrate Leron Daly have both read the case file and have said in open court that there is no evidence against Grant.
As such, the lawyer added that he is hopeful that the prosecution would seek legal advice which would then lead to the charge being withdrawn against his client.
The matter will continue at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts on February 15, 2023.
Kaieteur News had reported 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.
Moreover, Collis Haywood, 40, a chef of Lot R2-578 Canary Street, Tucville and Kevin France, 35, a taxi driver of East Ruimveldt, Georgetown are 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 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 reportedly 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.
The man who likes to shift blame!! | A message from Glenn Lall.
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