One of the two men who police say was involved in the $4M Robb Street armed robbery was yesterday remanded to prison.
Gregory Howes, 41, of 41 Russell Street, Charlestown, Georgetown, was slapped with three robbery-under-arms charges when he was arraigned at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.
It is alleged that on December 29, 2012, at Robb Street, Georgetown, Howes, being armed with a gun, robbed Maylene Hussain, Orlene Hussain and Jacqueline Hussain of a quantity of jewellery, wristwatches, a cell phone and cash, all totalling $4,034,000.
Howes pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were read to him by Magistrate Sueanna Lovell before whom he appeared.
The prosecution told the court that Howes’ accomplice managed to escape and has not been located.
Attorney Adrian Thompson, who appeared for Howes, made a desperate bid to secure his client’s pre-trial liberty. He told the court that his client was elsewhere at the time of the robbery—a fact, he said, a witness can substantiate. However, he lamented that even though the witness has indicated a willingness to give the police a statement to this effect, the police have ignored his client’s alibi.
Thompson, in challenging the strength of the case against his client, also noted that Howes was not placed on an identification (ID) parade. As a result, he questioned the credibility of the virtual complainants’ identification of his client.
The lawyer asserted that his client is not personally known to the complainants, which could taint a positive identification on their part.
He further added that according to his instructions, there were three men involved in the robbery and this could also militate against a positive identification of Howes.
Thompson requested reasonable bail, saying that his client had a fixed address, posed no risk of flight and had been cooperating with police investigations.
He added that it is not the first time that Howes was appearing before the courts, but quickly pointed out that he has no convictions and that he always attended court in those previous matters whenever required to do so. If granted bail, he assured, Howes would also return to court to face trial in the instant charges levelled against him.
Additionally, Thompson questioned the merit of the prosecutions’ case since the officer who swore to the information did not have his statements in the case file.
When the matter was initially called, the officer swearing to the information did not have his statements in the file.
This caused the magistrate to stand the matter down for some time to have the officer properly prepare the file before swearing to the information.
The magistrate subsequently reprimanded the policeman about his tardiness and by extension she admonished the prosecution about the importance of the job they are called to do in dispensing justice.
Nevertheless, the prosecution contested counsel’s bail application. Prosecutor Alexis David-Hossannah refuted Thompson’s contention that the complainants could not make a positive identification because the defendant was not placed on an ID parade and was not personally known to them.
She told the court that while she did not want to delve into the evidence of the case as yet, the complainants were able to properly see the defendant’s face while he was in their house, as nothing concealed his identity.
She said too that on December 30, 2012 one of the three complainants again positively identified the accused at a game shop, after which she immediately contacted the police, who later arrested and charged Howes.
The prosecution also argued that the fact that Howes’ alleged accomplice remains at large created an opportunity for Howes, if granted bail, to make contact with him, which could possibly lead to witness-tampering and result in him not returning to court to face trial.
David-Hossannah also asked the court also to take into consideration the value of the alleged stolen items as well as the seriousness and prevalence of the offence.
After listening to the submissions on both sides, the magistrate acceded to the prosecutions’ request and Howes was informed that he would be remanded to prison.
The matter will continue on January 9.
The Robb Street family was preparing to travel to Berbice on the night of December 29 when they were confronted by two men who robbed them of $4M in cash, jewellery and other articles.
Reports are that the men, who were armed with a gun, barged into the family’s home around 7:30 pm demanding money. During the ordeal, one of the occupants of the house managed to escape and raised an alarm, after which the bandits escaped and entered a car on Alexander Street which then sped off.