Heist netted criminal gang jewelry worth $340,000 Caribbean Gems burglar sentenced to five years

POSTED: 05/10/12 4:09 PM

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced Bryan Giovanni Henson to 5 years imprisonment for a series of burglaries and membership of a criminal organization. Of the sentence, 1 year is suspended. Co-defendant Felix Denis-Lopez was sentenced twice in one morning. For his involvement in crimes together with Henson he received 41 months, with 8 months suspended. For four additional burglaries he was later sentenced to 18 months with 4 months suspended – bringing his total to 59 months, of which 12 months are suspended.

Henson was found guilty of four burglaries, an attempted burglary, firearm possession and embezzlement of a police radio. The court imposed a 2-year probation period on both defendants.

Denis-Lopez was acquitted of two attempted burglaries, firearm possession and embezzlement of the police radio, but the court found him guilty of three burglaries. Both defendants were found guilty of membership of a criminal organization

The most notorious burglaries occurred on January 19 at Cash 4 Gold on Welfare Road where the burglars took$5,000 in cash and $4,000 worth of jewelry and the heist at the Caribbean Gems jewelry store where jewelry worth $340,000 disappeared.

Judge Mr. Monique Keppels wrote in her considerations that Henson committed several burglaries together with others. “The burglaries were organized in such a way that membership of a criminal organization is proven. Apart from the (especially at Caribbean Gems significant) financial damage, burglaries in private homes also violate the privacy of the victims and they feel unsafe in their own homes for a long time.”

Denis-Lopez’s attorney mr. Nerissa de la Rosa’s argument that her client had been detained without a legal basis was rejected by the court.  The argument was based on the fact that the defendant was detained in Simpson Bay and that he had not been taken to Pointe Blanche to take part in the day program.

“This position is not substantiated in any way; therefore the court does not share the opinion that the defendant has been detained without legal basis.”

However, the court did note that the order to detain Denis-Lopez for 30 days had expired on April 18. A day later, during the court hearing a new detention order was issued. Based on these facts the court concluded that the defendant had been unlawfully detained and granted him a 1 month sentence reduction for it.

Later yesterday morning Denis-Lopez reappeared in court on new burglary-charges. He confessed to burglaries on Back Street on February 24, on the Sucker Garden Road on February 27, on the Organ Pipe Cactus Road on the same day, and on the Lionel Connor Road on March 22. There were four additional non-specified burglaries on February 15 and on March 17 and 25 added to the charges, but the defendant could not remember them all.

“I am not surprised,” prosecutor mr. Bart den Hartigh noted. “With the number of burglaries the defendant committed it is not surprising that he does not remember them all.”

The prosecutor acquitted Denis-Lopez of the burglary on the Lionel Connor road, because the technical report contained such inconsistencies that made it unclear what it referred to.

“I will take into account the verdict that was pronounced earlier this morning and consider the punishment for all charges together.”

The prosecutor demanded an additional 2 years imprisonment, pointing out that the defendant after his earlier arrest last year had been released and that he had continued committing burglaries.

Denis-Lopez’s attorney mr. Shaira Bommel noted that her client had been arrested on March 31 for one crime and that he had voluntarily confessed to the other burglaries. “He knows he will get punished. He just wants to do his time and start over.”

Judge mr. Monique Keppels considered the additional charges proven and said that a total sentence (including the earlier conviction) of 5 years with 1 year suspended is justified. She sentenced Denis-Lopez therefore for the additional charges to 18 months with 4 months suspended.

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