St. Maarten Prosecution demands 18 months against three street robbers

POSTED: 05/19/11 12:29 PM

St. Maarten – What seemed to be a simply street robbery turned into such a complicated story yesterday morning that Judge Mr. M. Keppels refrained from pronouncing her verdict immediately. The three defendants will now hear on June 8 whether they will be held accountable for robbing a young man of his gold chain on December 9 of last year.

Elroy Ph. S., 19, Akeem C.L. G., 22, and Don J. L., 23 all claimed their innocence yesterday, though prosecutor mr. M.L.P. Ridderbeks found their stories hard to believe.

S. and L. both claimed that they had not been at the scene of the robbery at all, while Akeem G. admitted he was there but that he had not noticed anything because his mind was preoccupied with a lot of different things that day.

The victim of the robbery told police that a gray jeep had pulled up next to him in St. Peters near the St. Maarten Academy while he was on his way to school. Three men came out of the car, and surrounded him. One of the men, identified by the victim as Elroy S., took his gold chain, jumped back in the car and drove off.

Soon after the victim encountered a friend who told him he had seen the car and that the driver was somebody named Akeem. The victim filed a complaint at the police station and provided the car’s registration number. A couple of hours later police officers spotted the car and the driver and his three passengers were arrested.

In a photo lineup, the victim recognized three of the four as the men who had robbed him.

Confronted with this information from the case file Akeem G. admitted that he had been there.

“I may have been around but I did not take part in the robbery,” he had told the police.

In court he added, “I was there, but I did not see what happened.”

G. said that his two co-defendants were not with him. Instead, he said, there were two guys in his car that he did not know; he had given them a ride. G. told the court that he had stopped because he wanted to talk to a girl.

The two other defendants categorically denied that they had been on the scene of the crime. L. said that he was at home with his grandmother. Three witnesses (his girlfriend, a cousin and a friend) supported his alibi, but prosecutor Ridderbeks was not ready to give their statements any credit.

The three defendants and the other passenger had all given different statements to the police about how they had met on the day of the robbery. That gave Ridderbeks reason to doubt their other statements, while she said there was no reason to doubt the statements made by the robbery’s victim.

The three defendants spent 76 days in custody at the police station, a fact Ridderbeks took into account for her demand.

“We have let defendants go who are suspected of more serious facts because the Pointe Blanche prison is full. We will not be able to execute an unconditional prison sentence at this moment.”

Ridderbeks wanted to give the three defendants a firm warning, and demanded 18 months imprisonment, of which 9 months are conditional. The remaining 9 months are already accounted for by the time they spent too long in a police cell. The prosecutor asked the court to impose a 2-year probation period.

mr. L.M.G. Dundas said that his client Elroy S. denies that he was the one who took the chain during the robbery as he pleaded acquittal for S.

“He maintains that he was not there, but that he was at home with his grandmother.”

mr. B.G. Hofman, who represented the other two defendants, also concluded there should be an acquittal for his clients.

“There is not a lot of incriminating evidence in the file. That the victim recognizes all three is remarkable because he earlier told the police that he could not remember the third man.”

Because there is no supporting evidence next to the victim’s statement, Hofman asked the court to acquit both of his clients. That the prosecutor questioned the reliability of my clients’ statements is “far-reaching”,” Hofman said.

He also pointed out to the court that Akeem G. is under medical treatment for psychological problems.

“You must not be surprised that he does not observe everything. At the day of the robbery he had a limited ability to notice things around him”


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