– two freed as evidence insufficient
Three of the five accused in the robbery of land court judge Nicola Pierre and her husband Mohamed Chan were yesterday found guilty and will be sentenced next week.
Two of their co-accused, Premnauth Samaroo and Anthony David, left the court in tears after they were cleared of all five charges: two counts of robbery under arms, two counts of felonious wounding and one count of discharging a loaded firearm. Dameion Millington, Nicolas Narine and Warren McKenzie—the guilty trio—were found guilty of two counts of robbery under arms and two counts of felonious wounding. They were found not guilty of discharging a loaded firearm at security guard Ron Peters.
During her ruling Magistrate Zamilla Ally-Seepaul told the court that she found the evidence against Samaroo and David to be insufficient and as such the men were freed of all charges. She said that it was not clear why or on what grounds David was arrested. The case against him rested solely on an alleged oral statement. David had allegedly told the police that his friends had called him for a pick up as they were on a ‘wuk’ and they were being shot at. According to the magistrate, David had never signed a caution statement and the only evidence that he made the statement was in a personal diary of police officer Mitchell Caesar and not in a police diary, which is an official police record.
The magistrate said that after the alleged oral statement was given it was unclear if any effort was made by the police to check the phone records, which would have confirmed the oral statement. She said if efforts were made this should have been presented in court. The magistrate said she found the story behind David’s alleged oral statement suspicious and as such she was not satisfied that he gave the statement to the officers.
In the case of Samaroo, who was identified by Ron Peters, the magistrate said the court had examined the conditions under which Peters said he saw the defendant. Peters had said that Samaroo was shooting at him, it was at night, and the distance was 80 feet away. Moreover, the magistrate said that during Peters’ testimony he never told the court that he had attended an identification parade held by the police. She said that it was during cross-examination that he told the court he had picked out Samaroo at an identification parade. The magistrate said it was unclear whether he had a lapse of memory or whether he deliberately left out a crucial piece of evidence in his testimony in chief.
Moreover, during his testimony, Peters said the incident occurred at Felicity on the East Coast Demerara and it was unclear whether Felicity and Montrose were the same place or neighbouring villages. The magistrate said even if they were the same place it should have been made clearer during the trial by the
The magistrate said the stolen items found at Felicity were not identified as the same items that were taken from Justice Pierre’s home. She said all this should have been made clearer in the trial and a proper link should have been established.
In the case of Millington, Narine and McKenzie, the magistrate said that they were all positively identified by Justice Pierre and her husband. She said based on their testimony she was convinced that they were in their home. “McKenzie was the one who had the most verbal interactions with the witnesses during the commission of the robbery,” the magistrate said. As such, the husband and wife could have pointed him out among the five men since they had observed him over a period of time in their home.
According to the magistrate, she was satisfied that McKenzie was in the house and as such is guilty of felonious wounding and robbery. Moreover, she said she was satisfied that McKenzie confessed to being a part of the robbery, but didn’t know that it was a judge. The magistrate said that statement, unlike David’s, was recorded in an official police diary.
Millington had also given a caution statement that he was there on the night of the robbery, but in his testimony told the court that he was forced by the police to sign the statement.
However, the magistrate said she did not believe Millington’s testimony. She said Chan had observed Millington in his home and moreover he was picked out in an identification parade. She said that she was satisfied that there was enough evidence against him.
Narine was most memorable to Justice Pierre as he had told her that she was “solid.” Moreover, he was identified by both of the virtual complainants as having been in their home. The magistrate said that Narine’s identification by both husband and wife had convinced her that he was in their home on the night of July 8.
Millington, Narine and McKenzie, the magistrate said, were guilty of robbing Justice Pierre and her husband and guilty of wounding them. She said the prosecution supplied the court with enough evidence to convict the trio on those charges, but failed to provide evidence in the shooting of the security guard.
After the decision the magistrate said that sentencing will be done on June 23.
As the magistrate handed down her decision, tensions were high and tears began to flow among the relatives of the accused. When Samaroo was declared free to go by the magistrate, his sister began to jump for joy and had to be escorted out of the court room by the police.
David, a former bond clerk at Mike’s Pharmacy, who was also freed of the charges, held his wife’s hand and shouted “freedom” outside the court.
The relatives of the three convicts began to cry and shake their heads in disbelief. Narine’s mother, who had been present at every hearing, was inconsolable. She kept saying to other relatives surrounding her that her son was innocent.
Meanwhile the virtual complainants, Justice Pierre and Chan, who sat together in the courtroom, held the hands of close friends, as the magistrate read the ruling.
The crime was committed almost a year ago on the night of July 8, 2015 leading into the morning of July 9. Five men, who were armed with guns entered the couple’s home and robbed them of cash and articles amounting to over $3.6 million. It was also alleged that when the men were escaping they shot at a security guard.
The case was presented by Special Prosecutor, Attorney Nigel Hughes and Attorney Adrian Thompson defended Narine, Samaroo and David.