Men acquitted of bank job seek to get out of jail

| 25/11/2014

(CNS): Three men whose convictions in Cayman’s largest ever bank robbery were quashed by the Court of Appeal last week have applied to get out of jail after more than two years behind bars. On Friday David Tamasa, Rennie Cole and George Mignott will appear before a Grand Court judge, who will hear their application for bail. The three men were all convicted of armed robbery following the daylight heist at the Cayman National Bank in Buckingham Square in June 2011, in which over half a million dollars was taken. But a technical irregularity at the trial last year regarding warnings over their failure to give evidence has seen their convictions overturned, their lengthy sentences set aside and a new trial ordered.

Tamasa, from West Bay, the man police believe was the mastermind behind the robbery and who supplied the weapons, was serving a fourteen-year sentence for his part in the CNB heist as well as another armed robbery at the WestStar TV offices. However, he was also acquitted in that case and due to a number of factors, the appeal court did not order a re-trial.

With no previous convictions, the 34-year-old will be hoping to get bail because as it stands now, although still charged with the bank robbery, he has no convictions recorded against him. 

George Mignott (25), from Newlands, will also be hoping to get out of jail this week ahead of a new trial. He was also charged in the WestStar hold-up but acquitted after trial. However, he was given 12 years for his part in the armed bank robbery as he was said to have been one of the armed gunmen.

Meanwhile, Rennie Cole (34), who was never charged in connection with the WestStar robbery and was said to have been a decoy in the Cayman National Bank robbery, was given a nine year term. A Jamaican national who was on a work permit at the time of the bank job, was facing deportation after he had served his time. However, having been acquitted but facing a retrial, Cole may struggle to get bail as he will not be allowed to work, given his circumstances.

Although Andre Burton, from West Bay, a fourth member of the alleged robber gang, was also acquitted in the CNB case, the Court of Appeal upheld his conviction in the WestStar robbery. As a result, Burton will continue serving his 14-year sentence, though that lengthy term was based on the fact that Burton was a double robber.

Now that he stands convicted of just one, the appeal court said it would hear his application to reduce that sentence after the CNB retrial if he is found not guilty in that robbery.

Ryan Edwards, another Jamaican national who was convicted in both the WestStar robbery and the Cayman National armed hold-up, was the only one of the group of men whose convictions were upheld in both cases and he will remain in jail to serve his 13 year sentence.

He was arrested in Jamaica in possession of the money stolen from CNB, and after he was convicted in that case, he confessed to being one of the getaway drivers in the WestStar heist.

However, Edwards told police that his accomplices were not the men who had been charged based largely on the evidence of the crown’s supergrass witness, Marlon Dillon, who was also one of the gunmen in the bank robbery and who also said he was one of the getaway drivers in the WestStar hold-up.

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