“I am innocent,” both Wayne Griffith and Andrew Blackman, the two men accused of stealing almost $9 million during an attack at the Ramada Princess Hotel casino in April last year, declared yesterday when they each responded to the case presented by the prosecution.
Last Friday, Griffith and Blackman were called upon by Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman to lead a defence to the charge against them after she found that a prima facie case was made out against them.
The charge against the duo states that while being in the company of others and armed with guns, they robbed cashiers of $8,951,000, which was the property of the Princess Casino, on April 29th, 2017, at Providence, East Bank Demerara. A third man, Junior Stewart, who had been charged with the crime was freed last Friday after the court found that there was sufficient evidence against him.
When the trial resumed yesterday, both men, under the guidance of their attorneys, George Thomas for Griffith and Stanley Moore for Blackman, chose to give unsworn evidence.
During Griffith’s testimony he stated that he was innocent of the charge and that the person in the video footage presented to the court by the police was not him. He added that the arresting officer told the court that he arrested someone in all over black but when the tape was shown there was a person in cream.
Griffith further stated that he was beaten to give the caution statement the police took from him. He urged Magistrate Latchman to question Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and Magistrate Leron Daly about his condition when he first went to court.
Blackman at the first opportunity told the court he was innocent of the charge. He stated that he had nothing to do with the robbery, he never stole anything from Princess Casino and he did not give anyone any information about the casino.
Blackman told the court that he never signed any caution statement and that when he was arrested on April 29th, 2016, he was interviewed at the Criminal Investigation Department headquarters by ASP Mitchell Caesar and told of an allegation of robbery committed at Princess Casino. Blackman added that he was verbally and physically assaulted and then asked to sign a paper, which he continually refused.
After Blackman’s unsworn testimony, attorney Thomas presented his closing arguments to the court.
The attorney stated that the prosecutor failed to prove every element of the offence against his client and urged the court to find Griffith not guilty of the offence.
Magistrate Latchman later adjourned the matter until Friday, when attorney Moore is expected to present his closing arguments and the prosecution is to reply.