“From all indications the bike man set me up.” This was the conclusion drawn by Trevor Smithet, victim of Five Star Backdam’s latest armed robbery and brother of the latest murder victim.
According to Smithet, who is slowly recovering from the gunshot wound he suffered to his leg during the robbery, on the night before the incident he visited an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) rider by the name of Shawn to arrange for transportation to take him out of the interior the following day. Smithet continued that the following morning at around 5.30 he returned to the man and told him he was ready to leave, as he wanted to make an early start. He said the ATV rider then told him to give him some time as he needed to wash some clothes, so he [Smithet] responded that he’d be at the camp site awaiting him. He continued that before he left, he saw the ATV rider heading somewhere down the road instead of back into his house.
Back at the campsite, Smithet said he proceeded to complete his packing and while doing this his brother Cleveland Smithet (the deceased) and another colleague (known only to Smithet as ‘Biscuit’) informed him that they too intended to travel out that day. So they all packed up and awaited the ATV which finally arrived and the quartet set out.
The injured man went on to explain that normally, when leaving the interior from the camp they would take a particular road, but on that last trip the ATV rider took another route that seemed to take them in circles. This he said seemed strange, but he said nothing. Smithet said that a little way up they were met by another ATV and rider, with two passengers; a male and a female. The two drivers, he said, exchanged conversations and from listening he deduced that they had made arrangements to meet and head out together. After transferring Smithet’s bag into the second ATV, the two vehicles set off for the main trail with the second driver in the lead.
“Just as we entered the main road Shawn overtook the other bike and we started climbing a hill,” Smithet went on. He said they soon came to a fork in the road, and they took the right shoulder instead of the left as was the usual route. This, too, he found strange but said he asked no questions because he trusted the ATV rider as he had travelled with him once before. He continued that about 300ft into the road the group was pounced upon by two masked men, armed with a shot gun and a pistol and the terror began.
The vehicles had by this time come to a halt, since they were already going at a slow pace up the hill, and Smithet said the men began inquiring about the whereabouts of the gold. One of the bandits, he said, kept looking at him and telling him “you does wuk night and day so you gotta get gold”. After hearing him as well as the other bandit speak Smithet said he recognized both voices as those of two men he’d seen at different intervals during his stay at the camp. He said the same suspect struck him in the head with his gun butt and he fell to the ground.
After dealing several other blows to Smithet the bandit then turned on the now deceased brother and asked for the gold, to which the younger of the two brothers complied. He was nonetheless fatally shot in the vicinity of the abdomen, the miner recounted. The bandit then proceeded to the second ATV, which Smithet said had been parked some 100ft back from the first, and began terrorizing the woman and the rider [by this time the male passenger had escaped into the bushes]. Thinking the bandits intended to kill her and the rider, the woman reportedly handed over all of her bags containing gold which the bandit took and threw on the ground nearby. He then returned to Smithet, whom he shot in the leg before he finally decided to hand over what he had to the men, “After he shoot me and I see me brother dying I tell he me bag on the other bike and he went and collect it”.
Smithet explained that as the bandit moved back and forth between the two vehicles, his partner in crime stood guard with his gun. All this while, he continued, the first ATV rider, Shawn, stood and watched on, at times conversing with the two perpetrators in a friendly manner, and escaped unharmed. He said that even though he was in pain he remembered hearing the rider telling the men “man humble allyuh self, don’t cyar it so stiff”. Smithet also added that Shawn also had his own bag with gold but the bandits didn’t touch it.
Satisfied that they’d had enough, Smithet said the bandits then picked up their loot and walked back in the direction of the backdam, immediately following which the first ATV rider jumped onto his bike and proceeded to ride away. “Biscuit”, he said, had also mounted the bike but pleaded for them to return for the injured Smithet. The rider finally complied and they returned and took him, still bleeding, to the Five Star Landing. The second rider and the woman, he said, followed in their ATV, while his brother’s body was left on the trail; I didn’t bother to bring him with me cause I said that is police work”. The male passenger who’d earlier fled the scene was also left behind.
Once at the landing, Smithet said he was given pain killers by persons there but had to wait until around 2 in the afternoon when a boat arrived to take passengers. He said he and his companion, who had pleaded for him, took the boat up to a place called Fall Stop and there they caught a Land Cruiser which transported them to the Port Kaituma Hospital, where he was treated.
He said the police were subsequently informed of the incident and they soon ventured into the area to conduct their investigations. Smithet said when he last heard from colleagues in the interior [sometime yesterday] he learned that two persons; Shawn and a woman; had been arrested. He is convinced that the entire episode was a set up. Both he and his brother had been in the interior since the beginning of this year and Shawn had been known to them for a few months.