A female relative has been identified as the mastermind of the armed robbery of businessman Malcolm Panday and his family at their Bel Air Gardens home on Tuesday,
Well-placed sources told this newspaper that the breakthrough came during the interrogation of the six men held after the brazen attack. The woman, who was still in police custody at press time last night, was arrested at her East Coast Demerara home.
Crime Chief Seelall Persaud confirmed yesterday that the suspected mastermind is a close relative of the Panday family. He said too that there have been no additional arrests since Tuesday. He said that ranks are still looking for the remainder of the stolen cash and investigations are continuing into the heist.
Persaud would not confirm that a former policeman, who worked with Panday, was among those arrested. He said that he was not going to release a name unless the person is charged.
Though the suspected mastermind was arrested, it is unclear if police have been able to detain all the conspirators.
This newspaper understands that charges could be laid before the end of the week.
Meanwhile, in a surprise move Panday yesterday issued a statement revealing the names, photos and information about the persons he suspected to have perpetrated the robbery. He identified the mastermind and her three co-conspirators as close relatives of his wife. He alleged that they planned the robbery in retaliation for an 18-month-old $1.4 million theft, which landed two of the quartet before the court.
According to the statement, the close female relative who was the mastermind of the robbery was arrested for giving out information and planning the heist along with others. The statement said that the bandits, who were nabbed following the high-speed chase through Georgetown and a subsequent gunfire exchange at Ocean Spray Hotel, at Vlissengen Road, had received inside information to rob the couple.
The mastermind, the statement said, knew that her relatives would be present but nevertheless “still give out information for the robbers to come.” It added that she told them specifically that Panday’s wife, Annie Ramsood, would be home at that special time, “so that they will be able to go and she will be able to give them the money, since the other people in the house does not know where the money is.”
Ramsood, according to the statement, has since said that the mastermind called her half an hour before the robbery took place, talking about an unusual matter.
The statement said that while in the house the robbers put guns to the heads of four relatives, including three children. One of the children, age four, the statement added, is still traumatised by the ordeal as he is waking up fighting, shouting, screaming and trembling as if he is experiencing and imagining the robbery.
Ramsood, it said, is grieved about being deceived by the mastermind.
“Monies are not usually kept at the home, where the robbery took place, but was there on this occasion to make a payment,” the statement noted, while adding that the mastermind was one of two persons who could have known about this.
Yesterday, a source close to the family said that the victims are still traumatised by the ordeal but are trying to stay strong for each other.
On Tuesday morning, two men, one of whom was armed with a handgun, attacked and robbed Panday’s wife at their Bel Air Gardens home, according to police. Also at the home at the time were Panday, the couple’s children and their household staff.
While Panday managed to slip away and summon the police from a neighbouring residence, police said the bandits forced Ramsood to open a safe from where they took an undisclosed sum of cash, comprising local and foreign currency, and escaped in a waiting car, bearing registration plates PKK 3700.
Police said a prompt response resulted in their intercepting the men in the compound of the Ocean Spray Hotel, where they exchanged gunfire with one of the four men who fled the vehicle. Three of the men were arrested and an unlicensed 9mm pistol with 8 rounds and a sum of cash were recovered.
According to police, further investigations led to the interception of a car, PMM 9436, at Front Road, West Ruimveldt, Georgetown, and the arrest of three other men and the recovery of a further sum of cash.