Fourth suspect in 2017 home invasion on trial

| 13/09/2021
Cayman News Service
Shane Connor

(CNS): Four years after a couple suffered a harrowing armed home invasion at their house in Patrick’s Island, Shane Connor (44) from George Town is the fourth man to go on trial charged with the crime. Connor has denied having anything to do with the aggravated burglary and the other associated crimes as he maintains he was in East End at the time.

As the crown opened the case Monday, prosecutor Scott Wainwright outlined the evidence that supports the allegation that Connor was the fourth man in this violent crime. He said traces of Connor’s DNA were found on a glove that police recovered when they tracked a bag of loot from the crime that had been hidden by the robbers.

Wainwright told the jury that phone records put Connor in George Town that night and not East End, while WhatsApp messages between him and Elmer Wright, who has already been convicted of the crime, were also incriminating.

He said the messages show discussions between the men about the carelessness of Caine Thomas, who was the first of the men to be arrested, and how they would share up the proceeds of the burglary, cutting him out. Wainwright also revealed that Thomas said he was recruited into the criminal enterprise by Wright and Connor and that he would be giving evidence during the trial to support that allegation.

Caine Thomas’ brother, Nikel, has also already admitted his involvement in the case, which police say was acting as a “lookout”. His home overlooks the airport with a clear view of the police chopper’s take-offs and landings, and he had agreed to message the robbers to let them know when the police were on the move. Wainwright told the jury that there was phone contact between Nikel Thomas and Connor.

Before the victims, Steve and Maria Butler, gave evidence via video-link from overseas, the crown prosecutor outlined the details of the crime spree on 17 June 2017. It began with an attempted break-in at a home on Camelot Drive off the West Bay Road, which was picked up by CCTV.

The crown’s case is that, having failed to gain entry to this house, Connor, Thomas and Wright then went to the Marriott Hotel parking lot, where they stole a Honda Civic. They then headed east toward Prospect. At around 4am the three of them arrived at the Butlers’ home in Amity Street. They broke into the house and headed to the couple’s bedroom, where they were sleeping.

The Butlers told the jury how they awoke to the masked men shining small torch lights in their faces. The men said, “This is a robbery,” and demanded to know where their cash and jewellery was. During the frightening invasion of their home, the three men, two armed with guns and the other with a hammer, threatened and assaulted them and tied them to chairs with duct tape.

The robbers were all masked at the time, one with a Halloween mask while the others had black material over their faces. At least two of the men were very threatening and aggressive, and one made lewd sexual threats against Maria Butler, which made the couple fear she would be sexually assaulted, they told the court.

The men also put guns to their heads and threatened to kill them, telling them they had killed five people already and unless they told them where the safe was, they would become numbers six and seven.

The ordeal lasted around 40 minutes before the men made off with around CI$35,000 in cash and valuables. One of those valuables was Maria Butler’s mobile phone. When she was able to free herself shortly after the robbers left, she immediately called the police. When they arrived she used the app on her iPad, which had not been stolen, to track her phone.

This led police to Slate Road, not far from what officers were soon to discover was the first of the homes that the trio of offenders had targetted in the earlier hours of that morning. Later that day the attempted break-in and the damage to the house in Camelot Drive was reported to the RCIPS.

When they arrived in Slate Road, they found Maria Butler’s phone in one of two backpacks along with more stolen property from the Butlers’ home, as well as clothes, including gloves, one of which would later be connected to Connor.

Caine Thomas was arrested later that morning when he was spotted driving in George Town with defective lights. When police officers pulled his car over, he sped off and then crash into a light pole following a police chase. The officers then searched the car and found clothes doused in gasoline in a garbage bag, duct tape, WD40 and other items that were also later linked to the crime.

This eventually led to four suspects being arrested and eventually charged. Although Nikel Thomas was charged and pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the crimes, he was not charged directly with the aggravated burglary.

Connor was arrested at the beginning of the investigation but denied any involvement, telling police he was in East End all night. He was interviewed several times and maintained his innocence. He was not charged until after Caine Thomas had given evidence in the trial against Elmer Wright in January last year, when he also said that Connor had recruited him and was the fourth man involved in the crime spree.

The case is continuing for three weeks and is being heard by visiting judge, Justice Dale Palmer. Paul Keleher QC from the UK is representing Connor, instructed by local attorney Kathleen Ryan.

Share your vote!

How do you feel after reading this?
  • Fascinated
  • Happy
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Bored
  • Afraid
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Courts, Crime

Comments are closed.