Casino robbers get 6 yearsPOSTED: 07/21/15 6:44 PM
St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced two men to 6 years of imprisonment yesterday for an armed robbery at the Atlantis Casino in Cupecoy on November 16 of last year. The court acquitted a third suspect for lack of evidence. The robbers, dressed in women’s clothing, took almost $29,000 from the cage at the casino that in the meantime has been rebranded as Starz Casino. Only a small amount of money has been recovered after the arrest of the suspects.
Christ Akim Henry faced the highest punishment (10 years) because he is the one who shot a guard in his leg during the robbery. Co-defendant Bob Alexander Edward Wilkins was looking at 8 years as Henry’s accomplice, but the court ruled that both men were equally responsible and settled for a prison term of 6 years for both of them.
The court acquitted Claude Marinique B., an employee of the casino, and ordered the prosecution to return $6,639 and €600 police officers confiscated from him after his arrest.
This by now 22-year-old carried a picture in his phone of co-defendant Kerby D. (who still has to appear in court in September) dressed in women’s clothing that was used during the robbery and he maintained phone contacts with D. and Chris Henry before and after the crime. B. made implausible statements about these contacts. On top he had a large amount of money in his possession that, according to the prosecution, could be part of the robbery’s loot.
Judge Maria Paulides ruled however that these facts represent insufficient legal and convincing evidence that B. contributed one way or another to the robbery. Police arrested B. on November 19, 2014, while he was sitting in a car with Chris Henry. The court’s conclusion meant an acquittal for the casino-employee.
The robbers entered the casino on November 16 dressed as women. According to the prosecution, these men were Chris Henry, Bob Wilkins and Kerby D. Chris Henry shot a security guard in his leg. When the cashier’s shift changed, the robbers pushed the new cashier inside the cage and took the money they were after.
The gendarmerie later found the getaway on the French side in Sandy Ground. In a nearby container, the gendarmes found the clothing the robbers used to disguise themselves. Research by the Dutch Forensic Institute NFI later linked Wilkins and Henry to the robbery.
The court overruled attorney Safira Ibrahim’s argument that the DNA ought to be excluded from evidence because it failed to see why the transfer of the clothing from the gendarmerie to the Dutch-side police was unlawful. This did not harm the defendant’s interest, the court ruled, noting drily that Henry’s interest that his involvement in the crime not be discovered cannot be considered as an interest the court needs to respect.
The court confiscated the $1,076 found in Henry’s possession when he was arrested. Henry could not explain the origin of this money and he has been without regular income for seven months. “”According to his own statement he earns at most $750 per month and from this money he has to support himself,” the court ruling states.
The sentence for 22-year old Wilkins and 21-year old Henry include a charge for firearm possession.