Police commissioner praised for “decisive and courageous” action in apprehending robbers
Three men who pleaded guilty to robbing Diamonds International jewelry store on New Year’s Day 2014 were sentenced on Monday. The robbery involved use of a loaded firearm, and the value of the goods stolen totaled US$814,750. All items were recovered except for three rings valued at $3,922.68.
Jonathan Mark Ramoon, who carried the firearm into the store and pointed it at a security guard, was sentenced to 15 years.
James McLean, who smashed showcases with a hammer, was sentenced to 12 years. Christopher Julian Myles, who drove the getaway car, received 10 years.
A fourth man, who selected and collected items, was never caught or identified.
Justice Charles Quin summarized the incident and aggravating features as previously outlined by Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards. They included the wearing of masks and gloves, with McLean additionally using a pillow to alter his body shape; a planned switch to another vehicle from the getaway car; the terror felt by staff; the negative impact on tourists in town that morning; and the potential negative impact on Cayman’s reputation and the tourism industry.
Justice Quin noted that Ms. Richards had properly acknowledged the “decisive and courageous action” of Police Commissioner David Baines, who was driving downtown while off-duty and quickly realized what was happening.
He struck the getaway car with his car and attempted to push it against a wall to trap the robbers. They managed to get out and he drove after them, striking Ramoon and trapping the other two. He told them to stay where they were and he called for an ambulance.
Justice Quin said, “Had Commissioner Baines not acted so quickly in ramming and immobilizing the getaway car used by the robbers, and had he not pursued the robbers – eventually stopping Ramoon in flight – all the robbers could have escaped and avoided apprehension. This country is grateful for the quick and brave actions of Commissioner Baines in trapping the getaway car and defendant Ramoon.”
The judge also acknowledged the “brave and timely interventions” by the head of security at Diamonds International and two courageous members of the public, “who, with little regard for their own safety, assisted in apprehending defendants Myles and McLean. Their actions remind all of us of our duty to assist the police in their efforts to combat the very regrettable rise in crime that the Cayman Islands has experienced in the past six years.”
Both civilians, who preferred to remain anonymous, received minor injuries. One suffered a dislocated shoulder. The other was kicked with sufficient force to cause pain and deafness that lasted about 15 minutes.
Justice Quin said the failure of the defendants to identify the fourth robber diluted to some extent their expressed remorse. If they had delivered the fourth robber, their assistance would have resulted in a significant reduction of sentence.
He found there was a distinct absence of mitigating factors, having heard from defense attorneys and read social inquiry reports. A one-third reduction for the guilty pleas was not appropriate in this case, he indicated; to get full credit, one must plead or give an unequivocal indication at the earliest reasonable opportunity. Further, in this instance, the prosecution’s case was overwhelming, he remarked.
Ramoon, 36, had previous convictions that included one for an unlicensed firearm. In this incident, when he pointed the gun at the security guard, he told him to put his head on the ground and then dragged him further into the store, causing the guard to get cuts from glass on the floor. He would have received 19 years for the robbery and 14 years concurrent for this firearm. His pleas brought this down to 15 years.
McLean, 23, had two minor previous convictions; he pleaded guilty to the firearm charge on the basis of joint enterprise. His attorney said he did not know a firearm would be used, but Justice Quin pointed out that McLean failed to withdraw from the robbery once the gun was pulled out. His sentences would have been 16 years for the robbery and eight years concurrent for the firearm, but his pleas reduced that total to 12 years.
Myles, 32, had previous convictions for violence, but none for dishonesty. He had admitted his role as getaway driver but pleaded not guilty to the firearm charge. The Crown allowed this charge to lie on file. He would have received 13 years but for the guilty plea.