Bada Bing bookkeeper faces same punishment on appeal

POSTED: 04/13/12 4:31 PM

St. Maarten – The Common Court of Justice will pronounce its verdict in the case against Ramona Sonia Lupu on May 3. Lupu is the former bookkeeper of the Bada Bing adult entertainment club in Simpson Bay; the Court in First Instance sentenced her to 30 months imprisonment for her alleged involvement in the March 7, 2011 armed robbery whereby an accomplice grabbed a bag containing $16,000 Lupu was supposed to deposit in the club’s bank account.

Though solicitor general Mr. Ton van der Schans thought the lower court’s verdict on the mild side, he demanded a similar punishment: 30 months, of which 10 months are suspended and 3 years of probation.

The solicitor general said there is ample proof for Lupu’s involvement in the robbery. “The accusation of her involvement comes from Kenny Douglas, who said that he had been threatened by Jimmey Ramsahai to keep his mouth shut. But Douglas stuck to his story that the robbery was a setup. The car would stop at the second speed bump in the road near the club and that is where Douglas would grab the bag with the money. All pieces of the puzzle fit.”

Van der Schans said that it was “remarkable” that Lupu drove with the car windows open, knowing that there was a considerable amount of money going to the bank.

Lupu told the court that she was suddenly confronted by a masked man who stuck a gun in her face when she slowed down to cross the speed bump, and that she had panicked. “I screamed,” she said.

Lupu was driving the car accompanied by a security guard who held the bag with the money. The actual robber, Douglas, took it away from him under threat of his firearm. Douglas, a former cook at Pineapple Pete’s in Simpson Bay, told investigators that Ramsahai was the man who had come up with the plan for the robbery. Douglas was released from pretrial custody shortly after making his statements and subsequently deported to his native Dominica.

Mr. Jairo Bloem told the court that there are inconsistencies and contradictions in the evidence the Court in First Instance used as the basis for its conviction. “It is purely based on Douglas’s confession. “Why is his statement credible while it contains contradictions and my client’s explanations are not?” he wondered.

Part of the evidence against Lupu consists of retrieved text messages she exchanged on the day of the robbery with Oxana, the now ex-wife of co-suspect Ramsahai. Lupu’a attorney, Mr. Jairo Bloem, said that the explanations his client had given for these text messages were perfectly credible and he substantiated this claim by reading a statement from Oxana that basically confirmed the defendant’s story.

Before the court got around to dealing with the case it handled a request by Ramsahai’s attorney Mr. Johan de Vrieze for a postponement. He said he had not had enough time to prepare the defense, in part because he had not received a summons for the trial date.

Solicitor general Van der Schans pointed out that Ramsahai had received his summons in person on February 11. “Since he is not detained, it is his responsibility to find an attorney. Two months have gone by and now he claims that he could not get in touch with his attorney.”

Court president Mr. J.R. Sijmonsma concurred, saying that Ramsahai had made insufficient efforts to make sure he had legal representation. The court denied the request for a postponement; then De Vrieze desisted on the spot, leaving Ramsahai without legal representation. When the defendant insisted that he wanted an attorney to take care of his defense, the court finally gave in. “You made insufficient efforts to find an attorney to justify a postponement,” Sijmonsma said. “But if the attorney desists, then we have such an unexpected situation that we cannot continue the case without legal representation.”

Ramsahai’s appeal will now be heard on June 28. “I draw your attention to the fact that this will most likely happen only once,” Judge Sijmonsma told the defendant. The Court in First Instance sentenced Ramsahai in January to 36 months. Both he and Lupu were also sentenced in January to repay the stolen money to Bada Bing owner Jaap van den Heuvel.

Did you like this? Share it:
Bada Bing bookkeeper faces same punishment on appeal by

Comments are closed.