Cops await advice on charges for Bel Air heist suspects

The female mastermind of Tuesday’s multi-million dollar Bel Air robbery and her alleged collaborators remained in police custody last evening, as investigators awaited the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on charges to be laid against them.

Crime Chief Seelall Persaud said late yesterday afternoon that police were going to seek advice sometime earlier in the day. “I can’t say what came out of that,” he said, while noting that investigations were still ongoing.

Ten persons, including the woman, were detained following the armed robbery and they are said to be cooperating with investigators.

Four of them are relatives of the victims, Annie Ramsood, and her partner, businessman Malcolm Panday, who owns a chain of stores in the city. This newspaper was told that charges could be laid against all, if not most of them, today.

The couple released a statement accompanied by photographs and information about four of the accused on Wednesday.

The family was unwilling to release any additional information yesterday, with a close associate only saying that the matter is now in the hands of the police.

The couple’s statement identified the mastermind and her three co-conspirators as close relatives of Ramsood. It is being 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. She was arrested at her East Coast Demerara home late Tuesday night.

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 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.

Guns were placed to the heads of relatives, including children, who are all said to be still traumatised.

Reports are that just before midday on Tuesday, two men, one of whom was armed with a handgun, attacked and robbed Ramsood at the couple’s Bel Air Gardens home. Panday, the couple’s children and their household staff, were also in the home at the time of the invasion.

Panday managed to slip away and summon the police from a neighbouring residence, while 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.

A prompt response by police resulted in their intercepting the men in the compound of the Ocean Spray Hotel, on Vlissengen Road, where ranks 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. Police, during further investigations interception of a car, PMM 9436, at Front Road, West Ruimveldt, Georgetown, and arrested of three other men. They also recovered a further sum of cash.

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