Wayne Griffith, one of the men accused of stealing almost $9 million during an attack at the Ramada Princess Hotel casino in April last year, was yesterday sentenced to 60 months in jail after being found guilty of the crime.
While Griffith was found guilty and sentenced, his co-accused, Andrew Blackman, was acquitted at the conclusion of their trial, which was conducted by Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman.
It is alleged that Griffith and Blackman, while being in the company of others and armed with guns, 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 on November 16th after the court found that there was insufficient evidence against him.
During a court hearing that saw an increased police presence, Magistrate Latchman gave a detailed account of the trial, which lasted over a year.
The magistrate noted that it was the prosecutor’s duty to prove that the defendants feloniously took the funds, used guns and violence during the commission of the offence, that the defendants put persons in fear during the commission of the crime and that at the time the defendants intended to permanently deprive persons of the money.
It was highlighted that both Griffith and Blackman gave caution statements to the police, which were tendered and marked as exhibits.
These caution statements and video evidence, according to the magistrate, were relied upon heavily by the prosecution.
The court heard that during a voir dire on the statement purportedly given by Blackman, attorney George Thomas testified on his behalf. As a result of evidence the attorney would have given during the voir dire, Magistrate Latchman stated that she was uncertain if Blackman gave his statement to the police. As a result, Blackman was found not guilty of the crime and freed.
Griffith gave unsworn evidence, in which he stated that he was innocent of the crime 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.
Despite Griffith maintaining that he was innocent of the charge, during yesterday’s hearing he heard that the court disbelieved that he was beaten by the police to give a statement. It was the court’s belief that he was instead beaten by persons at the crime scene.
The magistrate stated that in reaching her decision, she relied on both his caution statement and the evidence of a Lance Corporal, who said Griffith, a schoolmate, drew his weapon on him as he attempted to exit the casino.
Magistrate Latchman further stated that she was aware that the two persons the funds were taken from during the robbery did not testify. She noted that their absence did not detract from the video footage that was presented to the court.
After finding Griffith guilty of the crime, Magistrate Latchman attempted to elicit information from him. “I have nothing more to say in this court. You give me my sentence so I could go downstairs. You watch the footage two time and seh you see me and mi watch it two time and me ain see me,” he told the magistrate.
Prior to sentencing the accused, the magistrate stated that she took into consideration the use of a weapon—a 12-gauge pump action shotgun—the use of violence—one witness lost two fingers, which were shot off, another lost three teeth—and the theft of the money.