Jury still deliberating in bank robbery trial

| 19/03/2015 | 0 Comments

(CNS) Updated: The jury trying four men accused of robbing Cayman National Bank did not reach a verdict by the time the courts were due to close Thursday evening and were ordered to return to continue their deliberations Friday morning. The judge sent out the twelve men and women to begin their consideration of the case at around 11:45 Thursday morning but, following a complicated trial, at around 4:45pm they had still not decided on the fate of the four men accused of the daylight heist, which took place almost three years ago.

The judge had spread her directions and summary of the case to the jury over three and a half days following a five-week long trial.

David Tamasa, Rennie Cole, George Mignot and Andre Burton are all accused of being part of the gang which held up the Buckingham Square branch of CNB in broad daylight and made off with over half a million dollars. They are charged with robbery and possession of imitation firearms, as the guns in the heist were never recovered and no shots were fired so there is no evidence that the weapons used were functioning guns.

Justice Ingrid Mangatal made it clear to the jury that all four men are accused of playing very different roles based on the evidence of the crown’s primary but controversial witness, Marlon Dillon, who was also convicted of being part of the robbery, which took place on 28 June 2012, and should be considered individually. She pointed out that the credibility of Dillon was down to them but that the jury would need to find supporting evidence for his account before convicting any of the men and they could not convict on his word alone.

She warned them about the contradicting evidence and said it was up to them “what you make of it”. The judge said the jury had to decide whether the lies Dillon told and the changes in his story were significant and material to the heart of the allegations or minor.

The crown is depending very heavily on Dillon and phone records which connect the men. Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards QC had said in her case that the movements of the men’s phones, the calls between them and other features of the records support his account and as a result the jury could convict.

However, all the defence attorneys had argued that the evidence from Dillon was so severely flawed it could not be believed under any circumstances and in most cases the phone connections proved nothing at all.

Tamasa is accused by Dillon of being the orchestrator and the man who supplied the guns. Aside from the allegations from Dillon, who described Tamasa as a friend, the only other support for his part in the heist from the crown was telephone calls between the men before and after the heist. His defence attorney said that there is no evidence that any of the calls had anything to do with a robbery or that Tamasa had anything to do with any guns except the word of Dillon.

George Mignot is accused of being one of two armed men who entered the bank with a shotgun. The crown said he ordered customers and guards on to the floor and kept control of the bank floor with the shotgun while others took the money.

Evidence supporting the claims that Mignot was involved is supported by telephone contact, his absence from work that day, and DNA on a hat found in Dillon’s car. However, his attorney demonstrated that Mignot was absent from work a lot, that he knew Dillon and had been in his car many times. In addition, his defence attorney raised evidence that pointed to a different individual actually being the man with the shotgun.

A grey hoody that very closely resembles the one worn by the robber with the shotgun in the CCTV was discovered in the luggage of another man who was also connected to Dillon and called him around the time of the robbery. The hoody had that man’s DNA but not Mignot’s.

Andre Burton is accused of being the getaway driver and he is charged with being an an accessory. In addition to the allegations made against him by Dillon, Burton is also said to be a friend of Dillon and connected to the alleged gang by telephone records, and he was absent from work at the time of the robbery.

Cole is accused of being the bait-man who was tasked with distracting the security guard at the bank’s door to pave the way for the entry of the robbers. A stranger to Dillon before the robbery, he is connected to the gang only by a fifth man, Ryan Edwards, who was also charged with the crime but who is not currently on trial. The crown depends on that connection and what they say is too much of a coincidence for him to be a customer at the bank at the time.

The summation of the trial was one of the longest by a judge in a criminal case, having taken almost four days. The complexities of the case had led the judge to give her directions in parts throughout the week to help the jury digest the information.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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