CNB robbery appeal set to start

No decision yet on WestStar robbery

Attorneys for the five men convicted of the 2012 Cayman National Bank robbery are scheduled to begin arguments in the Court of Appeal on Monday, Nov. 17. 

Two of the men, David Tamasa and Andre Burton, were before the court last week, when counsel argued against their conviction for the robbery at WestStar Television Centre, which occurred a month before the CNB heist. 

A common factor in both trials was the evidence of Marlon Dillon, a participant in both robberies who confessed and gave evidence for the Crown. 

Dillon was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment this month, with credit for his guilty pleas, assistance to the Crown, the conditions of his being kept in custody away from Northward Prison and his previous lack of convictions. He also received credit for time served. 

On Friday, one of the appeal judges asked if Dillon had been released. Senior counsel Simon Dennison, who is responding to the appeals for the Department of Public Prosecutions, said he thought Dillon had served his sentence. 

Court president Sir John Chadwick pointed to an important difference in the two trials: the CNB robbery trial occurred first and was with a jury, while the WestStar trial that followed was by judge alone. 

Justice Elliott Mottley pointed out that the Court of Appeal does not decide guilt or innocence; it decides whether a trial was fair. 

Justice Bernard Rix suggested that attorneys for the WestStar appellants might want to find authorities about how one looks at judge-alone trials. 

A jury verdict could be found to be unsafe or unsatisfactory on the basis that the judge’s instructions contained a serious error.  

In a judge-alone trial, it would be an error in law to make a finding of fact for which there is no evidence, “but if there is some evidence, I don’t think you can say there is an error in law,” Justice Rix said. 

The court reserved its judgment in the WestStar case, with Justice Chadwick telling attorneys he did not think that decision would affect the CNB arguments. 

After a jury found the men guilty of the CNB robbery, David Tamasa, 34, and Andre Burton, 30, each received a sentence of 14 years. Rennie Cole, 34, received nine years. George Mignott, 25, received 12 years. Ryan Edwards, 38, received 13 years. 

Their appeal is expected to last four days.