Crown admits issues with key witness in robbery trial

| 21/10/2013

(CNS): Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Trevor Ward, QC, closed the crown’s case last week against four men accused of robbing the local TV company last May. Visiting judge, Justice Alistair Malcolm, heard that Ryan Edwards, Andre Burton, George Mignot and David Tamassa entered the offices of West Star TV and stole $8,269.36. Accepting that there were many inconsistencies in the evidence given by the key witness and co-accomplice, Marlon Dillon, Ward said he had still identified the robbers correctly. Dillon, who has pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and to being involved as a driver, said he took the men to Schoolhouse Road near the TV company’s HQ, where they were picked up by another man in a red Mitsubishi RVR.

Dillon has claimed that he had no knowledge of the robbery until he returned to the island from Jamaica the day of the heist. Although telephone evidence contradicts him, Dillon has said that he received missed calls from Tamassa while waiting for his wife at the airport. He told the court that when he returned Tamassa's call, he was told to come to his home in West Bay urgently.

The crown submits that Dillon is telling the truth when he explained that after arriving at his friend's house he was introduced to the idea of robbing the television company. The court heard that Beau Clarke, who was the alleged driver of the red Mitsubishi RVR and who has been charged with involvement in the robbery separately, was friends with an employee who had told him to come in the afternoon before the armoured van comes to collect the day’s takings. There was no evidence to support this allegation against the worker and he was never charged in the case.

When asked if he would like to be involved and get a share of the proceeds, Dillon claimed that he declined and was asked for just a ride to go and pick up the switch vehicle, which was Edwards' white mobile car wash van, from George Town. Dillon was then followed by Clarke and Edwards to Schoolhouse Road, while traveling with Burton, Mignot and Tamassa as his passengers.

Edwards had made admissions to the police claiming that his co-defendants were not his accomplices. The Jamaican national claims that he committed the robbery with Dillon and two other men, who had already fled the island by canoe. However, after searches conducted at Burton's residence, a black glove similar to one used in the robbery was found. Swab results show that Tamassa's DNA was present on the glove.

Government CCTV footage played to the court showed that Dillon's red Chevrolet Equinox is visible on route to Schoolhouse Road with the red RVR and white panel van shortly behind. When they arrived at a nearby parking lot, Dillon said he did not see Edwards turn up and asked where he was. It was at this point that the witness was told that there had been a change of plan and he needed to wait in the parking lot for the defendants to return after the hold-up with the cash.

The man, who has been described as a robber with a conscience after his decision to turn crown witness, said he could not leave his friends stranded and felt compelled to wait, despite his indication that he did not want to be involved.

After becoming anxious in the parking lot, Dillon said he called Burton, who confirmed that they had finished and were on their way back to Schoolhouse Road. The witness has said that it was during the getaway that the men began talking about what had happened during the robbery.

Counsel must convince the judge that Dillon must have correctly identified the robbers in order to gain a guilty verdict. During his closing submission, Ward said Dillon could not have possibly been so accurate on the details of what transpired inside of the television company unless the robbers had told him, as he suggested in his evidence. The crown also told the judge that both Mignot and Burton were absent from work on the day in question.

However, Ward conceded that Dillon made various alterations to his statements and admitted that the crown was going to rely on a false account until the admissions made by Edwards prompted a further investigation. This investigation led to Dillon being charged with aiding and abetting a robbery and the arrest of Beau Clarke, who will be tried separately.

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