Prison time looms for Coconut Pete

POSTED: 09/6/13 4:38 PM

St. Maarten – On September 25, Peterson R., better known by his nickname Coconut Pete will hear in the Court in First Instance whether he has to spend 15 months behind bars for a burglary he allegedly committed on May 5 in Simpson Bay and for fencing a sim-card.

Coconut Pete and the man who filed a complaint against him for the burglary knew each other: the defendant had obtained the right to pick coconuts in his garden. But when the home-owner returned to his house in the afternoon of May 5, he saw Coconut Peter come out of his house with his iPad under his arm.

The home-owner was miffed, not in the least because he had become the victim of no fewer than eleven burglaries in the timespan of just one year, without ever finding out who stole his stuff.

This time however, he noted that a stone had been shoved under the gate that gives access to the yard. Coconut Pete’s slim frame fit neatly underneath it.

The defendant denied yesterday in court that he had been in the house. “I was in the yard near the coconut tree,” he said. “I had permission to pick coconuts there.”

Investigators linked Coconut Pete also to a stolen sim-card that stemmed from a phone that had been stolen from a car in Pelican Key.

“There were a spectacular number of burglaries in Simpson Bay. That has resulted in a big dossier and to two charges for this defendant,” prosecutor Dounia Benammar said. She admitted that the proof for the burglary was meager. “The plaintiff recognized the defendant, he took the iPad out of his hands and the defendant has acknowledged that he was in the yard. That is sufficient evidence,” the prosecutor said.

The prosecution considers fencing the sim-card also proven. The defendant used the stolen number for regular contacts with a man called Matousch, who, according to the prosecution, is dealing in stolen goods.

“This series of burglaries has been a pest for St. Maarten. Burglars cause a lot of damages and the victim in this case had been burglarizes already ten times. The dossier shows that a large number of people benefit nicely from these burglaries,” the prosecutor said, adding that without fences there would be no burglars either.

Attorney Shaira Bommel maintained that there is insufficient evidence to prove the burglary or the fencing. The complaint is the only evidence for the burglary. The fact that my client was in the yard is no proof. He had permission to pick the coconuts.”

Attorney Bommel also questioned the evidence for the stolen sim-card that was mainly based on voice-recognition by two police officers.

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