Laptop robbery nets construction worker 30 months

POSTED: 04/12/12 12:46 PM

St. Maarten – Kevin Kerry Brooks told the Court in First Instance yesterday that everybody knows him, yet he made an attempt to get past a police officer who had ordered him to stop on November 16 of last year. Together with a man only identified in court as Steve, Brooks had just robbed a student in Cupecoy of his laptop. When he wanted to get past the police officer near the substation in Simpson Bay, he lost control of his two-wheeler and fell. After that, his arrest was a formality.

Yesterday, the court sentenced Brooks, 24, to 30 months imprisonment and 2 years of probation for his involvement in the robbery. Of the sentence, 12 months are suspended. Brooks also has to pay $500 in damages to a student who made an attempt to block the robbers when the wanted to make their getaway. The damages occurred when co-robber Steve swung a hammer at the windshield of the student’s car and virtually destroyed it. Steve has not been arrested yet and Brooks will remain responsible for all the damages and work out a settlement with him on his own.

Brooks told the court that he had given Steve a ride on his scooter to Mullet Bay and that he was unaware of his passenger’s plan to rob someone. The student was walking towards his school when he was attacked. Steve apparently used a hammer to threaten him; later he used the same weapon to destroy the windshield of another student’s car. The robbers fled towards Simpson Bay. Near the airport they got a police car on their tail; the chase ended in Simpson Bay, where officers found the stolen laptop on the scooter’s floorboard between Brooks’ legs. The hammer was also found in his possession.

Prosecutor mr. Dounia Benammar considered the defendant equally responsible for the robbery, based on his behavior after Steve had taken the laptop from the student. She demanded 30 months imprisonment with 9 months suspended and 2 years of probation. She also demanded that Brooks compensate the second student for the damage to his car.

Attorney mr. Norissa de la Rosa pointed out that her client had been unaware of the robbery-plan and that there had not been close and conscious cooperation with Steve – a prerequisite for finding a defendant guilty of complicity.

“He panicked and he drove off under the robber’s instructions. He did not have an opportunity to distance himself voluntarily from the situation. He did not intervene, but that is insufficient for complicity.”

De la Rosa asked the court to acquit her client and to reject the demand that her client pays damages.

“The actions that caused the damages have been taken by Steve, not by my client.”

Judge mr. Monique Keppels disagreed with the defense and considered complicity proven, based on the actual events.

“There was close and conscious cooperation.”

The judge mitigated the prosecutor’s demand by making the conditional part of the sentence slightly higher.

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