Ex-Republic Bank worker jailed over attempted heist

-claims he didn’t know plan was to rob bank

Former Republic Bank employee Jamal Haynes will be spending the next six years in jail after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the attempted robbery of the bank’s Water Street branch that ended in a fatal shootout last Tuesday morning.

Haynes, 24, Lot 4 Norton Street, Wortmanville, Keron Saunders, 24, of 59 Burnham Boulevard, Mocha, another bank employee, Shawn Grimmond, 23, of 137 Pike Street, Kitty, police constable Gladstone George, 24, Lot 55 Princes Street Lodge, and rural constable Anfernee Blackman, 21, of 65 Laing Avenue, West Ruimveldt, were all arraigned before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in Georgetown.

The joint charge stated that the five men, while being armed with firearms, attempted to rob Republic Bank on July 4, at Water Street, Georgetown.

The suspected mastermind of the botched heist, Elton Wray, also known as ‘Peas’, 25, of Eccles, East Bank Demerara, was fatally shot while trying to flee the bank after the shootout ensued, while Haynes and Saunders were captured.

Dead: Elton Wray

Haynes, who was shot twice to his legs, pleaded guilty to the charge yesterday, while Saunders, Grimmond, George and Blackman pleaded not guilty.

The police prosecutor told the court that Haynes, by virtue of being an employee of the bank, had knowledge of day-to-day transactions. He added that Haynes was to facilitate and furnish the other robbers with information and identify a particular employee, who would have been in receipt of a large sum of money deposited over the weekend by customers of the bank.

After the Chief Magistrate asked Haynes if he wished to tell the court why he attempted to rob the bank, he stated that the plan was not orchestrated by him, but by Wray.

He said he thought that he, Wray and Saunders were going to rob someone that had a large sum of money at one of the bank’s ATMs. It was when they went into the ATM area and Wray shot the door leading to the lower floor of the bank that he became aware that they were going to rob the night safe.

Haynes noted that Wray had a lot of information about the bank. He added that he didn’t know the persons Wray recruited for the robbery, such as the driver, who he said disguised himself with a hooded shirt and wore a rag around his face. The driver, he added, was the same person that gave them the guns on the morning of the robbery.

After Haynes gave his explanation, the Chief Magistrate sentenced him to two years for the crime.

Attorney Dexter Todd, who represented Grimmond, requested that his client be granted bail. The attorney then stated that on the day of the robbery, his client worked was unaware of what was taking place until he heard what he suspected to be gunshots. The attorney went on to tell the court that Grimmond was not found with a firearm or ammunition and that he gave the police a statement.

Attorneys George Thomas and Roger Yearwood, who represented Saunders and George, respectively, both requested bail for their clients.

The prosecution, however, objected to bail being granted to either of the other four men who entered a not guilty plea.

As it related to Grimmond, the prosecutor stated that on the day of the robbery, Haynes had visited his home at about 6.50 am and gave him a phone to make contact with the robbers when they were in the bank. However, due to the short notice, Grimmond was unable to make the call. He also said that Grimmond was implicated by Haynes and mentioned his fear that if granted bail he may interfere with witnesses.

As it related to George, the prosecution told the court that he was supposed to be the getaway driver. However, he added that when George found out that the robbery was unsuccessful, he made good his escape. The prosecutor said both Haynes and Saunders also implicated George and added that he also gave the police a statement confessing his involvement in the crime.

The prosecution noted that Blackman supplied the guns for the robbery and dropped the robbers to the bank in motor car HC 7888. He too was implicated by Haynes and Saunders and also gave the police a caution statement outlining and detailing his role, the court heard.

The prosecution also made the court aware that the police were in possession of video footage that would indicate the role of each defendant.

Chief Magistrate McLennan subsequently remanded the four other defendants and adjourned the proceedings until August 11.

Trapped

Meanwhile, Haynes was also read five other charges for discharging a loaded firearm, possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition, holding a bank employee hostage and robbery.

It was alleged that Haynes, on July 4, at Water Street, discharged a loaded firearm at constable 22707 Joseph, with intent to maim, disfigure or disable. Haynes was also accused of being in possession of a 9mm pistol on July 4 at Water Street and one live 9mm round. It was also alleged that on the very date, and at the very location, he unlawfully restrained Kandukar Singh, so as to prevent him from proceeding as he had the right to proceed.

Additionally, it was alleged that on July 3, at Sparendaam, together with others, he robbed Ryan Anthony Myers of a car, valued at $2,900,000, a $25,000 phone, and $19,000 cash.

While Haynes pleaded guilty to the charges of possession of a firearm and ammunition and holding a bank employee hostage charge, he denied the other crimes.

The prosecutor told the court that on July 4, at about 7.30 am, the police received a report of a robbery in progress at Republic Bank. Police responded and were confronted with gunshots from perpetrators, who were in the bank, which resulted in a suspect being shot.

Haynes, according to the police, held employee Singh as a hostage to leave the bank, using the 9mm pistol. The court heard that as Haynes and the hostage reached the arcade opposite the bank, he then shoved Singh and began to run through the arcade. He was subsequently captured and the police found the 9mm firearm and the single round, which he is said to have confessed to having in his possession.

Prior to being sentenced, Haynes told the court that he was given the 9mm firearm by Wray, who was standing by the door and shooting outside. He noted, however, that as far as he was aware, there was no ammunition in the gun, since Wray fired them all.

Haynes said too that after the police kept shooting, he, Wray and Saunders were stuck in the bank. He added that Wray then ran outside towards the south, while he and Saunders remained trapped. He stated that he then saw one of his colleagues and took him hostage with the 9mm pistol. Haynes added that he took his colleague and stood outside for the police and security guards to stop shooting. He stated that he knew if he ran outside by himself, he would have been shot. He further stated that when he was outside, he began to shout for them not to shoot.

Haynes was subsequently sentenced to four years for the firearm charge, four years for the ammunition charge, and fined $90,000 for each. The two sentences will run concurrently, meaning that he will serve a total of four years for the two charges. However, this will run consecutively with his two-year sentence for the attempted robbery.  As a result, he will spend six years in jail.

Haynes was also fined $100,000 or a default sentence of six months in jail for the charge of holding a bank employee hostage.

In relation to the other charges, Haynes will reappear in the city court for the charge of discharging a loaded firearm on August 11 and at the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court for the robbery charge on August 10.

Saunders also faced additional charges which stated that on July 4, at Water Street, he had in his possession a pistol and 10 live rounds of 9mm ammunition without being the holder of a firearm licence. He pleaded not guilty to the two charges.

The court heard that he told the police that the firearm and the 10 matching rounds belonged to him and were hidden in the toilet of the bank, where they were recovered.

He was also remanded to prison for these charges until August 11, when the next hearings are scheduled.

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