Four accused of sophisticated $500k+ bank burglary

| 20/03/2024

(CNS): Almost eight years after burglars made off with over CI$500,000 from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in George Town in a sophisticated inside job, prosecutors opened their case against four people on Tuesday after a long and complex police inquiry involving “cutting edge investigatory techniques”. David Samuel Bodden Jr, who worked at the bank, Elton David Webster and Statan Omar Clarke all deny burglary, while Webster’s wife, Eliza Webster, has pleaded not guilty to possession of criminal property.

As crown counsel Nicole Petit outlined the prosecution’s case for the jury, she said the investigation had gone cold, which was why it had taken so long. But when a new team reviewed the case and began painstakingly piecing together all of the forensic evidence, they were able to build a case against the four defendants.

The burglary was an inside job, the court heard. Petit said this was no “simple opportunistic crime” but a carefully executed sophisticated burglary that required inside knowledge and was “meticulously planned and executed”.

The court heard how a long-serving member of the bank’s management team arrived to open the bank on the morning after the burglary and knew immediately something was wrong. The interior banking hall’s door was propped open, and four of the six cash dispensing units from the area were on the floor, empty, but there was no sign of forced entry.

The first clue in the case as to who may have been involved came some three weeks after the burglary. Eliza Webster, who was travelling with her husband Elton, was stopped at Owen Roberts because she was carrying around $8,000 in cash, half of it in sequestered new notes. These notes were later traced back to the stolen cash.

Then, telephone records linked Elton Webster with Bodden, who was still working at the bank. He, in turn, was linked to Clarke, who was also linked to a red SUV that the police believe was used as the getaway vehicle.

Petit said that over the course of the investigation, investigators worked tirelessly to connect the dots using CCTV footage, telephone records, Bodden’s internal fob records, the findings of cash tracing experts, and other documentation to create a strong inference that the three men were responsible for the burglary and that the woman had handled the stolen cash.

On the night of 22 June 2016, when the burglary took place, Bodden was the last person to leave the bank, and he was in communication during that time with Clarke and Webster. His fob record also showed that he was in the banking hall, where the cash was taken from, after banking hours, which was against company rules. Petit said he “played a critical role and was the inside man” who had left the doors in the banking hall open for the others and supplied the necessary security codes.

Later, police recovered a voice note from Clarke’s phone shortly after the burglary in which he spoke about the problem of running around town with a lot of cash on him. Clarke, who worked as an elevator engineer, was seen at the bank doing maintenance work the day before the break-in, even though it was not on his work log and he had not been sent there by his boss to do any work at RBC at the time. His phone records also showed that he was in communication with the owner of a car that police had traced on CCTV as the likely getaway vehicle.

Petit stressed to the jury that the case was built on forensic evidence which, despite what other stories may be told during the trial, was “incontrovertible” and “cannot be shaken”, as she pointed out that over eight years, the memories of witnesses might fade but the facts remained and the forensic evidence was not eroded by time.

She urged the jury to “keep your eyes on the forensic evidence” as she laid out what they could expect to hear over the next eight weeks as the trial got underway. She said the crown was confident that the evidence they would hear would paint an overwhelming picture of the defendants’ guilt.

The case is being presided over by Justice Roger Chapple and continues this week in Court One.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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