An interior businessman who said that he took a quantity of raw gold from a mining camp as payment for the use of his machinery, on Wednesday appeared before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and was charged with intent to steal.
The accused, Elson Bettencourt, 54, of 293 Thomas Street, Georgetown pleaded not guilty to the charge which stated that on the 13th of October he went to the mining camp at Mowasi Backdam, Kanau River, Essequibo and demanded five ounces and fifteen pennyweight of raw gold, valued at $1.8 million, from Royston Gilbert with the intent to steal from Stephen Cheong.
According to the facts provided by the prosecution, on the day in question, the accused visited the camp and met with Gilbert who is the General Manager. During their meeting Bettencourt told Gilbert that Cheong had agreed to pay him for the use of his excavator. However, Gilbert indicated that he was unaware of the agreement and refused to hand over the gold. This prompted Bettencourt to behave in a disorderly manner during which he threatened to tie Gilbert to his vehicle and drag him along the trail. Fearful at this threat, Gilbert handed over the gold. As a result, a report was made at the Mahdia Police Station and was later investigated by the Major Crimes Unit. The prosecutor added that following the investigation, advice was sought, resulting in the charges.
Bettencourt’s attorney Ronald Burch-Smith said his client and Cheong had an agreement to use the excavator which is worth $36 million, and in return he would be paid 50% of the production for the use of the machinery. Burch-Smith also stated that different stories were related to the police. However, in his bail application, the attorney asked that it be a substantial amount. He explained that his client had no intentions of leaving the county during the course of the trial.
After listening to both sides of the argument, Magistrate McLennan granted bail in the sum of $100,000, and ruled that Bettencourt, who is scheduled to return to court on the 8th of November, lodge his passport.