On May 3, 2012, three masked men robbed downtown Scotiabank of $25,613.22
Three men accused of conspiracy to commit robbery at Scotiabank last year were discharged on Tuesday after the only evidence offered in the case against them was that of a single accomplice.
Attorneys confirmed that a discharge means the same as a not guilty verdict.
James Herbert McLean, Christopher Julian Myles and Kevin Curtis Bowen pleaded not guilty to conspiring with David Emmanuel Parchment and others unknown to commit the robbery. The dates of the conspiracy were said to be May 1–4, 2012; the bank was robbed on May 3, 2012.
Parchment pleaded guilty last year and began giving his evidence for the Crown on Monday.
Before he was to continue on Tuesday, Justice Alexander Henderson, who was hearing the matter without a jury, said he wanted to make a few remarks. He noted it is dangerous to convict someone on the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice.
In general, such evidence by itself is suspect because the accomplice witness has agreed to participate in a crime and is therefore not a man of good character, the judge said. An accomplice, who has pleaded guilty but has not yet been sentenced, might be tempted to shade his evidence in the hope that his cooperation would be rewarded.
In this case, the judge noted, the accomplice has previous convictions for drug use and had admitted using ganja at the time of his offense. Drug use raised questions about the accuracy of his recall.
The judge also pointed out that Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards had, in her forthright and competent manner, told the court there was no evidence to support Parchment.
Justice Henderson said it was open to the trier of fact to convict when there was no reliable evidence to support the accomplice’s testimony, but there had to be something exceptional about it which marked it as credible. In this case, he considered Parchment’s character, the tone and content of his evidence or the clarity of his recollections. He said nothing elevated this case beyond a typical recounting of an uncorroborated narrative which may or may not be true.
Ms Richards rose in response and said that, given this indication, the crown would offer no further evidence.
The judge then stated, “Each of the defendants is discharged on this indictment.”
When trial began on Monday, Ms Richards opened the case, explaining that the robbery occurred after three masked men entered Scotiabank; two of them went over the counter and took cash from tellers totaling $25,613.22. They had arrived in a dark Honda Accord and left in it. A fourth man, the driver, was never identified.
A tourist in the vicinity took pictures and passed them on to Kenneth Bryan, who was then a reporter with the local TV station. The car was recovered that afternoon on Bronze Road.
An off-duty police officer was in the bank at the time of the robbery and Ms Richards read his statement. He gave an account of what he saw and heard, including the fact that the robber who did not go over the counter was carrying a .38 snub-nosed revolver that was rusted. He said he would not be able to positively identify the robbers because there were no exposed distinguishing features.
It was after this that Parchment was called to begin his evidence. Parchment, 26, said he knew Myles as Frank White. He knew McLean as “Nugget” and Bowen as “Plantain.”
He said White and Nugget were at a restaurant where he went for lunch the day before the robbery. He said White started talking about a job he had coming up, but he needed a car to do it.
Parchment said he told White that he was going through a lot of stress and needed some money. He said he could lend his car, but he wasn’t sure because it wasn’t really his. He explained later that it was his girlfriends’s car but in his name. He said White told him everything would be all right and he would get the car right back.
Justice Alexander Henderson asked Parchment what stress he had. The witness replied that he was unemployed at the time and his girlfriend had stabbed him in the arm the night before.
“Okay, that’s stressful,” the judge agreed.
Parchment continued his account, explaining that he didn’t have a spare key for the car, but White gave him three dollars and told him to get one cut. Before he got the key cut, White said he would give him $4,000 for using the car. Asked if he knew what the job was that White needed a car for, Parchment replied, “No.”
Asked if he expressed any concern to White, Parchment said he told White that he didn’t want to get in any problems with his girlfriend. He said Nugget was there and didn’t say anything, but they bounced fists before parting.
Myles and McLean denied knowing Parchment.
Justice Henderson asked about Parchment’s criminal record, which included unlawful taking of lobster and whelk in 2012 and several convictions for consumption and possession of ganja since 2007.
The judge asked Parchment if he was smoking ganja the day he had this conversation with Frank White. Parchment replied, “Yes.”
He has been directed to return to court for sentencing on Monday, Dec. 2.
Ms Richards’ case opening included reference to Bowen’s alleged involvement – wiping the car clean after the robbery – again, according to Parchment.
The trial was to have started last week, but defense attorneys had argued for a stay on the basis that they had not received full disclosure of all the evidence the Crown had. Guy Dillaway-Parry represented Bowen. Myles and McLean were represented by Lucy Organ and Fiona Robertson respectively.
Ms Richards was assisted by Crown Counsel Candia James.