Teens face attempted murder charge

Jordon Bryson Powell, 18, and Jonathan Samuel Welcome, 17, appeared in Summary Court on Friday, charged with attempted murder following an attempted robbery at Blackbeard’s Liquor Store in Grand Harbour on 2 May.

The teens are both named on five charges: attempted murder, two attempted robberies, possession of an unlicensed firearm and possession of a prohibited weapon – a canister of pepper spray.

Powell alone is charged with an assault causing actual bodily harm.

During an examination of the shotgun that one of the suspects had, a live 12-gauge cartridge was recovered. Crown Counsel Marilyn Brandt said it was because of the cartridge that the attempted murder charge was laid.

Recent changes in the Criminal Procedure Code require serious charges – such as attempted murder – to be sent to the Grand Court “forthwith” and without any preliminary inquiry. Magistrate Valdis Foldats therefore declined to hear any bail application.

Attorney Lloyd Samson had indicated he wished to apply for bail on behalf of Powell. Welcome’s attorney, John Furniss, said he would not apply for bail yet.

The teens were remanded in custody until Friday, 20 May, when they are scheduled to be in Grand Court. All five charges were transmitted to the higher court because they arose from the same incident.

Ms Brandt set out details of the incident to explain why the various charges were before the court.

Ms Brandt said the incident began around 3.05pm. A Blackbeard’s store salesperson was standing at the door when she saw two masked men, one of them with a long gun. She alerted men who were delivering goods, ran into a back room and locked the door, leaving a male worker in the store.

The masked men entered and asked for the woman who had been at the door. They then ordered the male worker to give them money. Instead, as they were moving around the store, the worker walked out to warn the manager. The masked men checked the register but did not get any money.

Meanwhile, two fishermen near the scene were fearful for the safety of the people in the store. Charles Ebanks and Edward Azan went to their vehicles and got a knife and a machete. As they neared the store, the would-be robbers were exiting.

The man carrying a shotgun pointed it in Mr. Ebanks’ face and demanded his money and jewellery.

Mr. Ebanks replied, “Not today” and dropped his knife. The gunman pulled the trigger, but the gun failed to discharge, Ms Brandt said. Mr. Ebanks grabbed the gun and a struggle ensured. The other suspect, armed with pepper spray, attempted to spray Mr. Ebanks, but Mr. Azan came to his assistance. Ms Brandt did not specify which suspect had the shotgun and which had the pepper spray.

She said both would-be robbers then ran into a bushy area at the back of Grand Harbour and Selkirk Drive. Mr. Azan and Mr. Ebanks followed them, with Mr. Ebanks still carrying the shotgun. The would-be robber with the pepper spray was accosted by

Mr. Ebanks and responded by spraying him in the face. Mr. Ebanks nevertheless managed to hit the suspect with the shotgun. Other people then assisted in holding this suspect while Mr. Azan cornered the other with his machete until police arrived.

A police officer asked for the defendants to be remanded to Central Police Station. The attorneys indicated a preference for remand at Northward Prison. Ms Brandt said the place of custody was a matter for the prison and police and the Legal Department did not have the power to say where remand should be. The magistrate agreed he did not have jurisdiction and no decision was made in court.

During a subsequent examination of the shotgun, a live 12-gauge cartridge was recovered. Ms Brandt said it was because of the cartridge that the attempted murder charge was laid.