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'Look-out man' in robbery faces ten years in prison

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin

A man, who kept watch during a vehicle heist, was told he was just as culpable as the person who stole the vehicle and liable to a maximum sentence of ten years in jail.

Jason Mohammed, 23, of La Romaine, was found guilty in the San Fernando Magistrates' court on Friday by Magistrate Margaret Alert for his role in stealing a Nissan Frontier from his neighbour.

It was on the night of July 15, 2008 that Rennie Looknath secured his vehicle, activated the alarm and went to bed. Around 7 a.m. he found that the $140,000 pick-up was missing.

Mohammed denied knowledge of the incident. He testified that although he and Looknath lived nearby he was unfamiliar with the victim's premises.

Mohammed also said that he only knew Looknath from passing him in the road and at times when he would see him while he (Mohammed) walked his pet snake.

Mohammed said he was beaten by the police to sign a three-page confession statement.

But Alert said she found the document was authentic.

She said Mohammed's response to one of the questions posed by the police also led her to believe that the statement had not been fabricated.

In the document, Mohammed said the day before the robbery he was riding along Merlie Street, La Romaine when he was stopped by a man he knew who asked if he wanted to make some money.

Mohammed said he was told he would get $5,000 if he would be the look out while the van was being taken.

When he got to the location, he was told to stand by the road and whistle if he heard anything. In the statement, Mohammed said he saw when the men pushed the van out the yard and onto the road and he went home.

Mohammed told the police he was not paid for the job.

Alert said had it been that the police wanted to frame Mohammed, they could have said that he was the main perpetrator rather than the watchman.

She found that the State's case, as prosecuted by Sgt Wendy Williams, had not been compromised by the defence.

The magistrate found Mohammed guilty of the charge of larceny of a motor vehicle as laid by detective constable Narine Bisnath.

"There's no such thing as just a look-out man," Alert said.

She said Mohammed was just as criminally liable as the main offender and for assisting could face the same maximum ten-year sentence.

Mohammed will re-appear in court tomorrow when defence attorney Ainsley Lucky will mitigate on his behalf before he is sentenced by the court.

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