Bizarre car theft case sends one man down for 42 months

POSTED: 04/12/12 12:46 PM

St. Maarten – A self-employed painter and mechanic who was in custody since November 16 of last year was acquitted of all charges in a bizarre car theft case the Court in First Instance handled yesterday. Two co-defendants were not so lucky: 23-year-old Ronald Kareem Alfred was sentenced to 24 months (for an unrelated second charge) and Jamal Tyrone Romney, 22, earned himself 42 months as a guest at the Pointe Blanche prison.

The three defendants were involved in a rip-deal that involved Romney’s car. He sold the vehicle to a 22-year-old bartender, who initially paid $3, 500 for the car but was then told that he had to bring an additional $500. When the bartender turned up at a rendezvous on the parking lot of Port de Plaisance and approached Romney to hand over the money, Armando Gilbert C. jumped in the car and drove off.

Judge Mr. Monique Keppels had her doubts about the question whether Armando C. had intentionally taken the car away from the victim – given the fact that he maintained he had recognized the vehicle as belonging to Romney and that he was unaware it had been sold. He had only acted on Romney’s command to jump in the car and drive it to Belvedere.

“There is insufficient evidence and therefore this case results in an acquittal,” Judge Keppels ruled.

She also acquitted Ronald Alfred of the car theft, based on the fact that there was no proof for close and conscious cooperation with Romney. This defendant mainly acted as a go between that set up the car-sale.

Alfred did not get away from a charge for robbing a man called Ice of a wallet containing approximately $450 two days after the car theft. However, the defendant said that the victim owed him money for a power washer, while his co-robber Romney claimed the same man owed him money for car parts.

Both Alfred and Romney were sentenced for this robbery. Prosecutor mr. Dounia Benammar demanded 42 months against Romney plus the execution of a conditional part of an earlier conviction. She demanded 30 months against Alfred and 12 months against Armando C., with 6 months suspended and 2 years of probation. She asked an acquittal for Romney for a charge of possessing live ammunition that was found at his home. The defendant claimed that the bullets were found not in his room, but in his brother’s.

mr. Shaira Bommel said that her client denies his involvement in the car rip-deal.

“He never accepted any money and he was not there at Port de Plaisance. Witnesses have made statements that show some differences.”

mr. Norissa de la Rosa asked the court to acquit her clients Armando C. and Ronald Alfred, saying that there is insufficient evidence to prove the car theft.

“The prosecution has insufficiently proven who the car’s rightful owner was at the time.”

She also dismissed the charge for armed robbery two days after the car–incident.

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