Harry James, the taxi driver who was held after the attack on an Alliance, Canal Number 2, West Bank Demerara family, in which over $1 million in cash and jewellery was stolen, was yesterday charged with the crime even as he maintained that he was unwittingly ensnared in the plot and forced to help the two armed robbers to escape.
The charge read against James, 31, of 317 Zeelugt, East Bank Essequibo, stated that in the company of others armed with guns, he robbed Daenfra Sumdhat of $792,000 and a quantity of gold jewellery.
James was not required to enter a plea to the indictable charge after it was read by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan in Georgetown.
Police Prosecutor Gordon Mansfield told the court that two other suspects are being pursued by the police.
Granted an opportunity to speak, James told the court that he received a call from one of the two men being sought, whom he knows, to do a drive for hire job. He noted that when he arrived at their destination, he waited on the men in the car. It was while waiting, James said, that he heard a scream and then he observed one of the men making his way into the car. James said that when he asked the man what happened, he was told that there was probably a domestic problem in one of the homes.
James said as he proceeded to drive, persons came out of the home and asked him to stop but one of the robbers hit him with a gun and told him to keep going. The accused stated that he drove off and attempted to stop several times but was ordered not to.
James, a father of one, begged the court to grant him bail, given the fact that he did not rob the home. He noted that he was called as a hire car driver and that his vehicle even had a sticker from his taxi service on it.
The accused, who was encouraged by the Chief Magistrate to get an attorney, was then remanded to prison. He is slated to make his next court appearance on July 12th at the Wales Magistrate’s Court.
The robbery occurred around 2 am on July 3rd, when the bandits invaded two of the three houses at Lot 78 Alliance, Canal Number 2 Polder. They first entered the house occupied by Monoogi Sumdhat, his wife, daughter and one of their sons. The second house is occupied by another son and his family.
After not getting anything from the first house, the men forced one of Sumdhat’s sons to get them into the second house, where the money and jewellery were later handed over.
However, one of Sumdhat’s sons resisted and managed to disarm one of the robbers, who eventually fled in their waiting vehicle after they were wounded.
The victims pursued the bandits but were forced to give up the chase after their vehicle overheated. However, the police were able to apprehend the driver of the getaway car, James, during a roadblock set up at Leonora, West Coast Demerara.