Crown: Witness ‘flawed but courageous’

| 11/03/2015 | 0 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cheryll Richards QC, Director of Public Prosecutions

(CNS): The director of public prosecutions described the crown’s key witness in the Cayman National Bank robbery as “flawed but courageous” as she delivered her closing speech in the case to the jury Wednesday. As the trial of David Tamasa, Rennie Cole, George Mignott and Andre Burton, who are all charged with robbery and firearms offences, drew to a close Cheryll Richards QC said that, despite the flaws in his testimony,- Marlon Dillon had never wavered in his account of the men he said were his accomplices in the infamous bank heist.

The fate of Tamasa, Cole, Mignott and Burton will depend heavily on whether or not the jury believes the account given by Dillon, a.k.a. ‘Supergrass’, from the witness stand as his testimony is the main evidence against them. As she summed up the prosecution’s case, Richards pointed to a number of coincidences and some circumstantial evidence which she said supported Dillon’s evidence.

“We submit to you: he is flawed but to the end a man of some courage,” Richards told the jury. “He has admitted his own criminal dealings. While some will fight to the bitter end, he has held up his hand … His evidence is clear and unequivocal,” she added, as the crown’s lead prosecutor reiterated the fundamentals of Dillon’s evidence against the men he says were once his friends and accomplices in what is believed to be the largest bank heist ever in the Caribbean.

Dillon, she said, was clear and consistent with his evidence that it was Tamasa who gave the instructions, orchestrated the crime and supplied the guns; Mignot had the shotgun and was tasked with controlling the floor; Andre Burton was the getaway driver and Rennie Cole was the one who distracted the security guard.

Faced with a key witness who has given a number of different accounts, who had lied and whose evidence was, at times, inexplicable, the crown emphasised the coincidences, the lack of logic and the implausibility that he could have fabricated the entire account.

Richards suggested to the jury that much of the inaccurate testimony was irrelevant to the main point, which was the identity of his co-conspirators. He had admitted lying at first, she said, but had then accepted what he had done and, in his own words, had “come to grips with truth” and had been persistent since then about what happened and who was involved.

She asked the jury to consider how logical it would be for Dillon to name his friends instead of the real robbers and why he had also named a stranger, as Dillon had given evidence that he had not met Rennie Cole until the day of the robbery. The QC pressed the jury to think why Dillon would have elected to name random people that he knew if he was lying.

She said the logical thing would have been to give completely false names. Dillon had revealed the names of the men in the dock within days of his own arrest, so there was no time for him to plan and think of whose names he should give to the police of people that would match the real robbers’ descriptions so well and who were all connected in some way, the prosecutor noted.

The men were all in contact with each other before the robbery and after, but there was radio silence amongst the five during the time of the heist. She asked the jury to consider where the communication was between Dillon and the real robbers before the heist that day if the men in the dock were not his accomplices.

She said Dillon’s first call after the robbery was to Tomasa, a logical call if he was the mastermind. Also, nine minutes after the robbery Dillon called Burton again. She questioned why, when Dillon had just been part of an armed bank heist, he would make such a random call unless Burton was, as Dillon said, meant to be the getaway driver but who on the day was blocked by an armoured truck that foiled the planned getaway.

Dillon had also named Ryan Edwards, who was later arrested in Jamaica with cash in his possession stolen from the bank. However, Edwards is not on trial at present.

Richards pointed to the shopping spree that Cole had gone on after the robbery and the pictures of cash he had posted on his Facebook page as further circumstantial evidence that the men named by Dillon were the real robbers.

Tackling suggestions that Dillon had lied to get a lighter sentences and other benefits, she noted his imminent deportation and the fact that it is unlikely he will be able to join his family in the UK. But still he came to court and testified.

In the end, the prosecutor said, it was down to the jury to decide if they believed what Dillon said was true or not, and whether he gave untruthful evidence for what he hopes he might get or whether he testified, despite his circumstances, because, as he said, he had wanted to do the right thing.

Following the DPP’s closing summary of her case, James Curtis QC, who represents Tamasa, began his closing arguments on behalf of his client. Curtis is to continue in Grand Court One on Thursday morning ahead of the three other defendants, Cole, Mignot and Burton. Thier attorneys will each have a chance to speak for their clients before Justice Ingrid Magnatal will sum up the case for the twelve men and women of the jury.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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