Cowardly robbery punished with conditional sentence

POSTED: 06/9/11 12:14 PM

Co-defendant gets 1 day for marijuana possession

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance acquitted two defendants of robbing a man of his gold chain on December 9 of last year, and sentenced a third suspect to a 9 months conditional prison sentence with 2 years probation. One of the acquitted defendants received a symbolic 1-days sentence for possessing 32 grams of marijuana.

Akeem Crastell Louis Gumbs, 22, had admitted during the trial on May 18 that he had been at the scene of the robbery in St. Peters near the St. Maarten Academy, but he claimed that he had not seen anything and that he remained in the car he was driving. “I may have been around but I did not take part in the robbery,” he said.

But judge mr. M. Keppels did not believe Gumbs. The robbery’s victim, who’d been on his way to school when a gray Jeep stopped next to him, recognized Gumbs in a photo confrontation. Three men had emerged from the car, surrounded the victim and robbed him of his gold chain. According to the victim, Gumbs had been standing to his right, while the defendant claimed that the incident was already over by the time he got out of his car to see what was going on.

The court held Gumbs responsible for his actions and rejected a defense plea by his attorney mr. B.G. Hofman that he had been in a state of diminished accountability due to the fact that he had been under psychiatric treatment in 2007. “That says nothing about his psychiatric condition at the time of the robbery,” Judge Keppels ruled.

Taking into account that Gumbs is a first offender and that he spent 76 days in pre-trial detention in a police cell, Judge Keppels sentenced him to a 9 months conditional prison sentence. For what she labeled as a “cowardly robbery.” In May, prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks demanded 18 months imprisonment, with 9 months suspended, but she also indicated at the time that a sentence reduction of 9 months had to be applied for the time the defendant spent too long in a police cell.

The two other defendants faced a similar demand by the prosecution, but the court acquitted Don Joseph Junior L., 23, and Elroy Philson Steward, 19, of the robbery.

Steward still earned a conviction though, because the arresting police officers found 21 plastic bags containing altogether 32 grams of marijuana in his possession. He admitted that the drugs belonged to him and that he bought them “from a guy in Cay Bay.”

Judge Keppels took Steward’s acquittal for the robbery into account, as well as the fact that he, too, had spent 76 days in a police cell. Therefore she sentenced him to a symbolic 1-day prison sentence for the marijuana possession.


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