Regatta-killers face life imprisonment on appeal

POSTED: 08/30/12 1:13 PM

Lifers Curtley Richards (l) and Sherwan Roberts arrive at the courthouse for their appeal hearing. Milton Pieters Photos

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Solicitor-General mr. Taco Stein demanded life imprisonment yesterday afternoon in the Common Court of Justice against Sherwan Roberts (20) and Curtley Allison Richards (32). Both men appealed their life sentences the Court in First Instance handed down in December of last year for the eight crimes they committed in the course of three weeks of violence, rape and murder between February 25 and March 18 of last year.
Security measures in the courthouse were toned down compared to November when the defendants in the Regatta-murders (so called because they were committed in the weekend of the Heineken Regatta last year) appeared in court for the first time. They remained shackled and handcuffed throughout the trial. Yesterday shackles and handcuffs were removed, but the defendants remained under guard by four armed members of the police arrest team.
Apparently Richards is considered the more dangerous of the two defendants, because unlike Roberts he was transported from Pointe Blanche to the courthouse blindfolded. The defendants were each transported in a separate unmarked car, guarded by two members of the arrest team.
The members of the appeals court under president mr. E.M. van der Bunt and furthermore consisting of mr. H.J. van Kooten and mr. S. Verheijen spent close to three-and-a-half hours on discussing the case file. While the facts are clear – the defendants confessed under interrogation by detectives and later confessed in the Court in First Instance to their crimes – the three judges were more interested in why the men had murdered three men, raped a young woman, committed three violent armed robberies and ill-treated a woman.
But the defendants did not offer any insights in their motives. Their mumbles responses to all questions were devoid of any emotion and they did not show any sign that the realized the magnitude of the crimes they committed in such a short period of time.
Richards and Roberts are charged with the robbery and subsequent manslaughter on Ludovic Guillevin in the night of February 25 to 26, the killing of Eduardo Nova Valdez in the night of March 3 to 4 and of Foidel Luis in the night of March 4 to 5, the repeated rape of a young woman in the night of February 12 to 13, with armed robberies on February 12, the night of February 19 to 20 and February 23, and with the ill-treatment of a woman in the night of March 17 to 18.
Earlier appeals hearings were postponed because the defense attorneys wanted more information about the psychological state of mind of their clients. The report notes about Richards that, until he got locked up, he had an alcohol problem (he drank two bottles of whiskey per day), that he attempts to put the blame for their crimes on the much younger Roberts and that he has an anti-social personality disorder. “Apart from that you are normal,” Judge van der Bunt noted. “You are fully accountable for what you did. The risk that you will commit similar crimes again is average, but it is there.”
Richards has according to his psychological and psychiatric reports also an anti-social personality. He also has psychopathic tendencies, and the chance that he will commit similar crimes in the future is high.
“I am not a psychopath, I am not crazy,” Richards objected when Judge van der Bunt confronted him with the contents of the reports. He also denied that he used or had dealt drugs in his native Dominica. According to the report he is in a diminished state of accountability.
“I understand that what I did was wrong and that I have to be punished,” Richards told the court. “I would accept counseling but I am not crazy.”
Judge Van der Bunt assured him that the latter qualification is not part of his report.
Solicitor-General Stein spent hardly any time on the facts of the case, because the judges took their time to walk the defendants through all charges, and also because they had confessed.
“The question is: what now?” Stein said. “We are talking about three weeks of terror whereby three people were killed, a young woman was raped and violent robberies were committed. That has had an impact on our society; it has increased the feeling of unsafety.”
But the solicitor-general had noticed something even more terrible during the court hearing: “I am shocked by the facts and by the grossness of the violence. But what really concerns me is the emotionless way these defendants talk about it.”
mr. Stein held both defendants equally responsible for all crimes. “They went out together and they knew what they were going to do. There is enough calculation in their actions.”
The two defendants embarked on their crime spree because they wanted money. Their standard operating procedure was that Richards pretended to be a gipsy cab driver while Roberts was sitting unobtrusively on the back seat of their black Jeep. Once a suitable victim was in the car, the doors were locked and the victim was taken to a remote location and violently robbed, and in one case raped.
“The Court in first Instance imposed the heaviest penalty possible – life imprisonment. That does not happen very often,” mr. Stein said. “This is an extreme situation that has hurt the survivors of the victims who were killed and their families, but it has also hurt the victims that are still alive today.”
While both Richards and Roberts said yesterday on several occasions that they regretted what they had done, the solicitor-general did not buy it. “They are sorry with their mouth, but I have my doubts. They committed all these crimes in three weeks time. It escalated into an orgy of violence. This calls for the heaviest punishment – life imprisonment.”
The appeals court will pronounce its verdict in three weeks time, on September 19.
Today will publish the defense arguments tomorrow.

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Comments (1)

 

  1. William 47 says:

    Some centuries ago these individuals would be teared apart by 4 horses, 1 at each arm and 1 at each leg. How civilised are we now!