Guilty verdict in Magnum Jewellers heist

Jewellery valued at US$308,194

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Simon Julio Newball was found guilty Wednesday of stealing jewellery valued at US$308,194 from Magnum Jewellers on 22 December 2011 when the store was open for business.

Newball was also found guilty of arson in relation to a vehicle used to commit the crime.

A Grand Court jury of six men and one woman returned the verdicts Wednesday afternoon. Justice Alexander Henderson directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty to robbery, because the judge decided there had been no evidence that would permit them to return a verdict of guilty. Mr. Henderson said there was no force used by the three people who entered the store against anyone in the store and there had been no threat of force.

The judge explained further he had decided a theft had been committed and this “lesser included charge” was still live for jurors to consider.

In summing up the evidence, Justice Henderson referred to the account given by a salesman in the store. He said around 11am, a car pulled up to the store on Cardinall Avenue. He saw a man coming out of the car with an axe. The man smashed showcases and then he and two others grabbed jewellery and left. The whole incident took about a minute, he said.

The store manager said he saw a man with an axe getting into the back seat of a RAV-4 and he called police. Jurors also saw CCTV footage from the store.

Evidence was called to show that the RAV-4 had been stolen the day before. The vehicle was seen on fire around 11.30am in Wahoo Close, near downtown George Town, and three men were seen running from it.

Newball had been charged with theft of the vehicle, but Justice Henderson dismissed that charge, saying there was no evidence against Newball.

The judge said jurors would likely decide that the three men who burned the car were the same men who stole the jewellery. Newball was arrested on 10 January, 2012.

Police officers said two rings fell from his pants after he was handcuffed. Newball denied having the rings and said they had been planted.

His evidence included an account of his activities on 22 December, 2011 spending time with his girl friend, eating at a named restaurant, collecting a paycheque from his boss. He denied any involvement in the jewellery theft.

Sentencing was set for 2.30pm on Thursday, 14 June.
 

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The Magnum Jewellers store was a mess after the incident just three days before Christmas in 2011. Photo: File
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