Prosecution demands 18 years for manslaughter on Haresh Dayalani

POSTED: 03/31/14 11:26 PM

St. Maarten – Public prosecutor Tineke Kamps demanded 18 years of imprisonment against Robertson Craig P. yesterday for two armed robberies at the former Pelican Resort in Simpson Bay on May 13 and 14 of 2009 and for the robbery and manslaughter on Indian businessman Haresh Dayalani on May 26 of that same year. P. denied everything; the court will pronounce its verdict in this case on Wednesday April 16.

P. lived in Marigot in the house of Jefferson La Pas, a man who robbed Ricky’s pawnshop on Illidge Road in 2007 and who later attacked a prison guard in Pointe Blanche with a broomstick. The house was right next to the store of Haresh Dayalani. From a witness statement made by Louis Richardson, aka Sticky, it appears that the robbery that resulted in Dayalani’s death was all about money.

Richardson said in a statement to investigators that Jefferson La Pas was involved in Dayalani’s death. “He told me that he was involved in shooting death the Indian man and that he had prepared the robbery together with a friend called Craig,” Richardson’s statement reads.

La Pas said that he thought Dayalani took the day’s revenue from his store back home in the evening. “I did not ask if that was the case,” Richardson said in his statement. “Jefferson thought it was so.”

La Pas followed Dayalani to his home two days before the fatal robbery. At the evening of the robbery, Jefferson and Craig were already in place when Dayalani arrived home, Richardson said. “Jefferson did not say in detail what happened, but he said that the man resisted and started to fight. He said that Craig had a firearm and that he shot the Indian man accidentally.”

After the fatal shooting, Jefferson La Pas and Craig P. fled the scene.

Already on June 18, 2009, the gendarmerie attempted to arrest P. in a house at the Rue de la Liberté in Marigot – the home of Jefferson La Pas and his girlfriend Gerthy Didier. P. escaped.

Before the fatal robbery of Haresh Dayalani, P. was also involved in two robberies at the former Pelican Resort, on May 13 and May 14, 2009. P. told investigators later that two to four weeks after these robberies he had fled to St. Thomas. There police arrested him on September 21, 2012 for ill-treatment; then the authorities found out that he was a wanted man in St. Maarten. On March 25, 2013, he was extradited to St. Maarten.

Prosecutor Kamps noted yesterday in her demand that P. was a bad apple from the get go. At the age of 15, the defendant was regularly involved in fights and shootings. His mother sent him back to his native Dominica to live with his grandmother, but in 2008, he returned to St. Maarten. In spite of an expensive education at the Montessori school in Cole Bay, the defendant did not manage to walk a straight line. On May 16, 2009 – ten days before the Dayalani robbery – an attempt to arrest him on Cole Bay failed. On December 3, an international arrest warrant was issued, and on September 21, 2009, the defendant was finally arrested.

Prosecutor Kamps noted that the 50-year old  Dayalani – the president of the Indian Merchants Association on the French side of the island – was shot in the back of his head by his assailants. “He was shot only for financial gain and he did not stand a chance. He was left for dead near his wife who witnessed this horrible drama. They were happily married and in just one moment this was all over,” the prosecutor said. “Robertson P. played a part in the completely senseless death of this man and I want him to realize that.”

P. is also accused of taking part in two armed robberies at the former Pelican Resort (now Simpson Bay Resort and Marina) whereby the robbers stole a bag of checks on May 13, 2009, and $8,000 in cash the following day. Employees of the resort were tied up with duct tape.

Attorney Shaira Bommel asked the court to acquit her client for lack of evidence, saying that witness statements point in all kinds of different direction. “There is a lot of hearsay,” she said.

Unfazed, P. told the court at the beginning of the hearing that his mother is everything to him. That did not stop his mom though from providing investigators with a letter P. had written to her and in which he confessed to his participation in the Pelican Resort robberies. The letter cannot be used as evidence though because of the legal right to double privilege.

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