Jewels are Forever robber faces 30 months imprisonment

POSTED: 10/18/12 12:21 PM

St. Maarten – Public prosecutor mr. Dounia Benammar demanded 30 months imprisonment against Derick Delan W. for his role in an armed robbery at the Jewels are Forever store on Front Street on October 24 of last year that netted him a gold colored bracelet, four gold rings and a set of gold earrings. Judge Tamara Tijhuis will pronounce her verdict on October 31.
The defendant has a tough time in detention, mainly because his initial statement to the police led to the arrest of other suspects. W.’s attorney mr. Geert Hatzmann said that his client has been ill-treated on four different occasions. In one of these fights he almost lost an eye, another time he sustained injuries to his spine. mr. Hatzmann asked the court to postpone the case (again) because he was awaiting a report on what had transpired in the prison during the four fights, but later he retracted the request because Judge Tijhuis indicated that she believed the circumstances in prison for the defendant are unpleasant.

In May the trail was already postponed because the defense wanted to hear Leon Griffin as a witness. But in August he had not been heard yet, and yesterday that situation had not changed. Griffin is a suspect in sixteen armed robberies who was released from custody on April 14 because, according to a ruling by the Judge of Instruction, he had not been transported daily from the House of Detention in Simpson Bay to the Pointe Blanche prison to take part in the day program. After his release Griffin was deported to his native St. Kitts, where he was initially detained as well. The prosecutor’s office has sent a request for judicial assistance to St. Kitts to facilitate the hearing of the 25-year-old, but it did not receive a reaction. St. Maarten does not have a treaty with St. Kitts that regulates these situations.
However, yesterday the prosecution and the defense decided to drop their wish to hear Griffin because he is only expected to make statements that would benefit the two other suspects in the case, Johan Alberto R. and Gilbert Ch.

The robbery was committed by three armed men. One of them held a gun to the head of the store owner while the others smashed a showcase and grabbed some jewelry. The store owner later recognized Derick W. as the robber that held the gun to his head.
The defendant denied his involvement though to the point where judge Tijhuis asked him whether he had been ordered what to say in court – but he denied that too.
W. said that he had seen two men running away and that they had dropped jewelry on the street. He had gotten out and picked up some of it. A quarter of an hour after the robbery he was stopped by police officers who found the jewelry in his car. He denied that the other men had stepped in his car.
“Could it be that these men got into your car and that they gave you the jewelry as a reward for your help?” Judge Tijhuis asked, but again the defendant denied.
“I can see you are not comfortable,” prosecutor Benammar said. “There is a reason that your case is handled apart from the case against the other two suspects.” The prosecutor said that there is enough evidence in the file to convict W. as an accomplice. Earlier the defendant was sentenced to a 4 year prison sentence for another armed robbery. The prosecutor said that the standard point of departure for the robbery is 3 years. Taking the circumstances in prison into account, mr. Benammar applied a 6 month reduction and demanded 30 months imprisonment.

Attorney Hatzmann said that his client is paying a price for his good behavior. “He has been beaten up four times; once he had to be taken urgently to hospital because he almost lost an eye. The bad thing is that the House of Detention did not report these incidents to me. I received an annoying reaction from the former director (Rudsel Ricardo – ed.) when I pointed this out and I had to threaten with summary proceedings before I got the information. For the last two incidents I have not received any information. Apparently the House of Detention is not able to guarantee inmates their safety. My client is traumatized by all this and he has become suicidal. This is unacceptable.”
mr. Hatzmann said that his client had been detained for 358 days and that he spent a long time at the police station. Going back to the old rule that one week too long in a police cell entitles detainees to one month sentence reduction. The attorney said that W. had effectively served already 56 months in jail.

Prosecutor Benammar said that if the defendant is traumatized it is only fair to also mention the store owner who had a gun put to his head. “The defendant knows all the tricks. It started already in 2006 with a conviction for theft with the use of violence. This defendant has made enemies on the course of the years.”
The prosecutor said that W. is now detained in Simpson Bay and that a day program is offered to him. “But he chooses to stay in his cell.”
mr. Benammar said that the old reduction-rule was for the old police cells and not for the new ones – “”and that is where he was. He has called this situation upon himself.”
W. said in his last word that it is not his choice to stay in his cell: ‘They don’t want me in the day program because I have too many enemies in jail,” he said.

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