10 years for CNB, Foster’s robberies

Eluno George Liking, 26, was sentenced on Friday to 10 years imprisonment for his role in the March 2006 robberies at the West Bay locations of Foster’s Food Fair and Cayman National Bank.

In running the sentences concurrently, Mr. Justice Seymour Panton said he was taking into account Liking’s early guilty pleas and cooperation with police.

Another defendant, Damion Ming, faces charges in connection with both robberies. His matters have not yet been heard.

Other persons charged with the CNB robbery were Bjorn Connery Ebanks, Royce Leon Cornwall and Craig Damion Dilbert. They were found not guilty after the Crown offered no evidence against them (Caymanian Compass, 5 March).

Senior Crown Counsel Andre Mon Desir said Justice Panton would recall Liking’s role in the Foster’s robbery because Liking had given evidence in the trial of Damean Dwayne Seymour, whom a jury had found not guilty (Compass, 25 February).

The Foster’s robbery occurred on Saturday night, 4 March at Republix Plaza. The CNB robbery occurred at the Centennial Towers branch around the lunch hour on Friday, 10 March.

Mr. Mon Desir said that on the morning of the CNB robbery Liking and other men were in one vehicle driving around West Bay discussing routes to and from the bank. They also identified a house where they could hide afterwards.

Liking was left at the house for a while and he obtained for himself a mask and borrowed shoes.

When the other men came back for him, one had an M-16 rifle. Liking was given a nine-millimetre handgun.

Liking and two men got into a white Jeep and drove to the bank. When they stopped, Liking said he observed a security guard rushing as if to lock the bank door. He fired a shot at the glass.

Liking and another man then entered the bank. The other man remained in the general public area, effectively pointing the M-16 at members of the public and giving them instructions. Liking climbed over the counter and took a quantity of money.

The men then left the bank and got into the waiting Jeep. They drove to a pre-designated place where they were picked up by another man in a different vehicle.

They went back to the house and counted the money. It amounted to US$6,756. There was some debate about Liking getting so little and no CI currency.

Then they were alerted to the sound of helicopters as police were searching the area. They agreed to stay where they were until things cooled down and they would go their separate ways. Liking was arrested later that same day.

The security guard who was shot during the robbery, Samuel Dofredo, suffered a wound to his arm. He was taken to hospital for treatment and was released after a few days.

Mr. Dofredo later went to work as a security guard for the Port Authority. He died after being stuck by a forklift at the cargo distribution centre on 12 February 2007. Mr. Mon Desir told the court the Crown had no evidence to suggest that his death was in any way linked to the robbery.

After Liking was arrested, he initially gave a false alibi. But after he was satisfied that arrangements were made for his safety and his family’s safety, he made full and frank admissions as to his and others’ involvement in both robberies.

Defence Attorney Marlene Smith asked for concurrent sentences because of the way the two robberies were connected. She acknowledged that a firearm offence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.

Ms Smith said Liking was an unsophisticated man who got caught up with some unsavoury characters. They believed he had overheard something that could have implicated certain persons in crimes. They told him he had to prove he was not an informer or he would be dealt with. Liking took that to mean he or his family would be killed or harmed.

Liking had said he was instructed to take part in the Foster’s robbery. Ms Smith said he bungled it by losing the magazine to the gun he had been given and by stealing a cash register computer processing unit that did not contain any cash.

He was then told he still had to do something. This time it was to rob the bank with some other men.

It was clear from their teasing that Liking did not know how to handle a gun. He discharged the gun in order to get into the bank; he was not deliberately pointing at the guard, Ms Smith said. His shooting was an accident and fortunately the injury was not life-threatening.

By way of personal background, Ms. Smith said Liking came to Cayman in 1999, when he was 18. He had trained in Jamaica as a barber and after working here for five years, opened his own business in West Bay. She said he was making a success of it until these incidents.

Liking pleaded guilty to 10 charges on 6 May 2006. Apart from the two robberies, six charges related to possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition on the dates of the robberies.

He also pleaded to a charge of abduction, when he and an unknown companion forced two people away from the public beach so that their vehicle could be used for the Foster’s robbery.

The tenth charge was causing grievous bodily harm to Mr. Dofredo at the bank.

In passing sentence Justice Panton said he was considering all the charges against Liking as being one transaction. He also considered that Liking had no relevant previous convictions. Time in custody will count.

The judge said Liking was not the only person who was criminally minded in this matter, but he was the one going to prison. The judge was not imposing a sentence that could be interpreted as punishing Liking for the acts of others. What he had done was give him the minimum.

Justice Panton said it was clear that there is or are a gang or gangs in this small jurisdiction. The police ought to keep tabs on certain people and bring them to court on the slightest offence. That is the only way to keep a lid on persons who are criminally minded, he said.

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