T&T reporter, cameraman in court for robbery

(Trinidad Express) Express reporter Akile Simon and CCN TV6 cameraman Brendon Alexander were yesterday remanded in prison following their appearance before an Arima magistrate on charges of robbery in Arouca on Sunday.

The two media men appeared alongside security officer Marlie Charles and taxi-driver Randy Borris before Magistrate Anna Ryan in the First Court charged with robbing the owner of K&A Liquor Mart of over TT$300,000 on Sunday night.

Denied bail, Simon told the magistrate he knew she did not have the authority to determine where in the prison he would be kept, but asked that a note be sent to Prisons Commissioner Martin Martinez regarding his safety.

Simon said he was concerned, given his work as a court and crime reporter, for his own safety and well-being, should he be kept among the general prison population at the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca.

“These matters are already in the public domain so people already know who I am,” Simon said.

Reached by phone yesterday evening, Martinez said once there was information that a prisoner’s safety is compromised, arrangements would be made to protect that inmate as “we have an obligation to protect all prison inmates…We would find a way.”

Simon faces ten charges stemming from offences allegedly committed earlier this year.

Some offences allegedly took place in the Tunapuna district.

Simon also asked that those matters not be transferred to the Tunapuna Court, but instead continue in the Arima court, for he wanted to “take a certain course of action”.

His request was granted by the magistrate.

He is charged with robbing the liquor mart owner of TT$185,807, US$28,067 and nine bottles of Johnnie Walker Black Scotch Whisky valued at $2,700; possession of six rounds of ammunition; possession of a nine-millimetre pistol; impersonating a police officer; and uttering a forged document (a search warrant).

Those offences stemmed from the alleged robbery on May 20.

Additionally, Simon is charged with breaking into the home of Justin Maharaj at Eastern Main Road, Arima, on March 17 and stealing a safe containing TT$120,000, US$38,000, £5,000, Can500, and TT$90,000 worth of gold jewelry, while impersonating a police officer.

He is also accused of receiving a Sig Sauer nine-millimetre pistol, two ammunition magazines and 23 rounds of ammunition belonging to retired Police Commissioner Kenny Mohammed sometime between January 14 and May 20 along Range Road, Arouca, knowing the items to be stolen; possession of an ammunition magazine and of eight rounds of ammunition, allegedly found by officers who on May 21 searched his Grass Trace, Curepe home.

Simon, who was unrepresented, pleaded not guilty to the charges of impersonation and uttering the false document.

He was not called upon to plead to the other charges since they were laid indictably.

Alexander, represented by attorney Joseph Honore, faced two charges of robbing the owner of the liquor mart and driving a vehicle with a false licence plate.

He pleaded not guilty to the second charge.

Borris faces seven charges: robbing the liquor mart owner; possession of a Taurus pistol; and committing the act of common assault on a police officer on May 20.

He is also charged with robbing two Venezuelan nationals in separate incidents at Carlos Street, Woodbrook; and two other charges of impersonating a police officer on April 22, to which he also pleaded not guilty.

The offences alleged to have taken place in Woodbrook were transferred to the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court, and will come up for hearing on Tuesday.

He was also represented by Honore.

Charles, however, facing two charges of robbing the liquor mart owner and pretending to be a police officer, entered a guilty plea to the latter charge and will be sentenced on Monday, when all four accused return to the Arima court.

The prosecutor, a police corporal who did not give his name to reporters, objected to bail, describing the offences as serious.

He said preliminary checks showed that the accused men had a checkered past, but that their criminal background tracing was not yet available.

He asked for the opportunity to have them properly traced before bail was considered.

Acting Sgt Carl Hosten, Cpl Williams, and PC Jones of the Arouca Criminal Investigations Department (CID) laid the charges.


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