Sunday, February 18, 2018

Grande magistrate lowers bail for five accused

Three face charges in robbery attempt at second bank

 Two days after five men were granted a total bail of $5.4 million, on char­ges relating to the $4.5 million heist at Republic Bank’s Sangre Grande branch on Carnival Saturday, their bail was reduced to $2.75 million. 

Chaitram Mohammed, 27, of Vega de Oropouche, Toco Road, Sangre Grande; Navin Jute­ram, 34, of Mohammed Drive, Sangre Gran­de; Jason Villafana, 41, of Guaico Village, San­gre Grande; Kumar Narine, 21, of Freeport; and Sateesh Boodram, 33, of East Dinsley Gardens, Trinci-ty, all reappeared yesterday morning before Magistrate Ejenny Espinet in the Sangre Grande Magistrates’ First Court. 

On Tuesday, Villafa­na, Juteram, Narine, and Mohammed were jointly charged with breaking and entering, and for stealing the estimated $4.5 million from the bank, on a date between February 28 and March 1.

Juteram was also charged with receiving stolen property, namely $46,800 in cash, along with Boodram, who was also charged for recei­ving stolen property, name­ly $2,108,220 in cash.

Narine, Boodram and Juteram were also jointly charged for robbery with violence, as well as for breaking and entering, in relation to an incident which allegedly occurred at RBC Royal Bank’s Gua­yaguayare branch on January 16. 

For these offences, Villafana was granted bail at $900,000, and both Ju­teram and Boodram were granted bail at $1 million each. Narine was gran­ted bail at $1.2 million and Mohammed was granted bail at $1.3 million. 

Bail was set in the absence of background tracings on the accused men, and the matter was adjourned to yesterday morning for the police to attain the relevant information.

When the matter was recalled yesterday, the complainant in the matter, Inspector Wayne Doodhai, provided the court with the background tracings as requested. 

In light of this, defence attorneys Shivan Jadoo, Dinesh Narine and Shivanand Dubay, who represented the interests of the accused men, proceeded to make formal applications for the bail to be reduced. 

After further deliberations, Espinet determined the accused men had been forthcoming and truthful in the assertions they made on Tuesday’s hearing, and with the aid of the background tracing, she reduced the bail for all five men.

Juteram’s bail was reduced to $500,000; Mohammed’s bail was reduced to $650,000; Narine’s bail was reduced to $600,000; Villafana’s bail reduced to $500,000; and Boodram’s bail was reduced to $500,000. 

The matter is expec­ted to resume on April 10. 

Police had previously reported on March 1, at about 2 a.m., a group of men broke into the Republic Bank Sangre Gran­de branch by pri­sing open a back door to gain access to a vault containing the money.

Police said they responded to a report from a security officer who was on duty at the bank at the time, but when they arrived, the thieves had already escaped. 

The following day, on March 2, six men were detained by police and questioned in relation to the robbery. Based on information supplied to investigators, some of the stolen money, an estima­ted $2.1 million, was recovered in Las Lomas on Sunday afternoon. 

Following extensive investigations by officers of the Eastern Division and the Fraud Squad, under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner of Police Glenn Hackett, five of the men were charged and brought before the courts. 

Regarding the January 16 incident at RBC Royal Bank, police reported at about 5.30 a.m., officers of the Eastern Division received a call informing them of a robbery at the RBC branch in Guayaguayare. 

A party of Eastern Division officers, including Sgt Mickey Williams, Sgt Ramdhan, Cpl Bachoo, PC Mannah, PC Singh and PC Baran, rushed to the bank to see four men running off. 

The suspects had reportedly beaten and tied up two security officers who were on duty at the nearby Lennox Petroleum compound before stealing electrical tools and sledgehammers from the compound, which they then used to attempt to remove the automated teller machine (ATM) at the nearby RBC Royal Bank branch.

This matter is expec­ted to resume on March 24.