Court acquits young man of major jewelry robbery

POSTED: 07/1/11 7:34 PM

“Fingerprints alone are not enough evidence”

St. Maarten – His fingerprints were on the glass counter of Helena Jewelers, but that was not enough to convict Derrick Delan W., 21, for a jewelry heist that took place on April 24 and that netted the robbers chains and bracelet worth an estimated $195,000. The defendant spent a combined 59 days in a police cell and a total of 114 days behind bars.

While the court acquitted him of the robbery for which prosecutor mr. G. van der Wulp demanded a $4,000 fine and 4 years imprisonment, the charge for a burglary he committed on January 6 in a home at the Marigot Hill Road stuck.

For that crime, and for having a can of teargas in his possession, Judge mr. M. Keppels sentenced the defendant to 114 days imprisonment, equal to the time he already spent as a guest of Justice Minister Roland Duncan. mr. Keppels considered that the defendant spent a long time in a police cell and that the total length of his detention was enough punishment for the burglary. She ordered his immediate release.

The defendant readily confessed to the burglary in court. He entered the home through an unlocked side door and took two laptops, jewelry a camera and a couple of antique knives.

He denied to Judge Keppels that he committed the burglary together with Florentine J., even though forensic detectives found his fingerprints on the crime scene. Instead, W. said, he had done the crime together with “somebody from French Quarter.” He said he carried the teargas can for safety reasons.

W. was also found in the possession of seven fake $100 bank notes. He admitted that these were his but that he had no intention to use them, other than to fool his weed-supplier.

The robbery at Helena Jewelers took place on April 24 and lasted all in all just a few seconds. Two men entered the store, one jumped over the counter and started taking gold chains and bracelets, while the other robber kept the store owner and his staff under control with a gun.

W. denied that he took part in the robbery, even though his finger prints had been found on the counter.

Prosecutor mr. G. van der Wulp pressed the point of the fingerprints, saying that the store cleans its countertops daily. “It was a brutal robbery in bright daylight. Some thought was put into this plan, and only because you needed money.”

The defendant said that he  had an accident with a rental car and that he needed money for repairs. “You took time off to commit a burglary,” Van der Wulp said.

She demanded a $4,000 fine and 4 years imprisonment.

Attorney mr. G. Hatzmann said that his client had been arrested by police because of rude behavior towards a police officer. “His arrest was unlawful and based on that I ask for an acquittal. Hatzmann said that the prosecutor pulled the idea for the fine out of thin air. “My client confesses to the burglary but he denies his involvement in the robbery. I ask for an acquittal.”

Judge Keppels indeed acquitted the young man of the robbery. “Only fingerprints and a handprint have been found. That is not enough evidence, it is not sufficient,” she said.


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