From the Courts
December 1, 2017
Three St Lucian ATM thieves to know fate on December 6

The fates of three St Lucians charged with theft, conspiracy, money laundering and possession of 125 ATM cards with intent to use in theft, will hang in the balance until December 6.

Jammy Harry and Mario Chitole are charged with, between them, 21 offences of theft, wherein amounts ranging from $40 to $2,000 (the most popular sum), were acquired from various automatic teller machines (ATMs) in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on March 10, 11 and 12, 2017.

Aaron Kadoo, the third individual, is charged along with Harry and Chitole that they did agree on a course of conduct (theft), between the dates March 9 and 12, that was contrary to the Criminal Code. Kadoo and Harry are further charged with being in possession of 121 and four ATM cards respectively, for the use in the course of theft, in Kingstown, on March 12.

Kadoo and Harry are also charged with having in their possession criminal property of $66,660 and $4,250 also on March 12 in Kingstown, contrary to the Proceeds of Crime Act. Harry, Chitole and Kadoo repeated guilty each time they were required to plead to the offences painstakingly listed in court.

The accused are said to have arrived in SVG sometime in March this year, by boat from St Lucia, with no record of having cleared immigration, and a quantity of black and white ATM cards in tow. Between March 9 and 12, one or more of the prisoners was thought to have gone to various ATMs around SVG and used the cards they brought with them to access accounts of customers from the Bank of SVG and GECCU. They withdrew amounts of cash in varying amounts from these accounts. The Major Crimes Unit intercepted, on March 12, the defendant Harry at an ATM, where he was caught red-handed trying to access the machine at the Bedford Street branch of the Bank of SVG. They searched Harry and found $4,225 in his possession and four ATM cards.

Some time later that day, the Major Crime Unit met Kadoo and Chitole at South River Road in Kingstown, and found on Chitole’s person $66,660 and 121 ATM cards. The senior manager of business operations at the Bank of SVG examined the cards and determined that they were not cards that had been issued by the institution. They were subsequently charged with numerous offences, but invoked their right to remain silent.

The prosecutor stated that they are moving towards a confiscation order for the money seized by the State. He further stated that although the documents were not with him in the court, he had seen a document to the effect that Kadoo had antecedents before the court for theft.

Duane Daniel, defence lawyer for the accused, did not let this submission slide, saying that unless the document was produced in court, the prosecution could not prove that there were antecedents and that the court was “not a court of speculation.”

In considering the sentence, Daniel asked Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias to consider certain mitigating factors. For the offences of theft, Daniel stated that the most that had been accessed from the ATMs was a sum of $2,000, which roughly multiplied would take the offences up to a maximum of $42,000. He therefore stated that given the amount seized from their person, the money may be returned to the banks and by extension, the individuals parted from their money.

Daniel also asked that the fact that the men pleaded guilty be considered, and that they had already been incarcerated for seven months.

With regard to the offences of money laundering, Daniel stated that it seemed more, to him, like a “slightly improved garden variety of theft.” He said that “at level best they were infantry and foot soldiers of this criminal enterprise” and of medium culpability.

The Chief Magistrate, said she needed to further consider the sentence and adjourned the matter until December 6, when sentencing is to be delivered to the trio.(KR)