The hunt for the fourth member of a robbery gang that raided the Diamonds International jewelry store in a brazen New Year’s Day heist last year is still on, police insist.
Commissioner David Baines welcomed the harsh sentences handed to three members of the gang on Tuesday and thanked the members of the public who helped him catch them red-handed.
He said high-profile daylight armed robberies have been a growing menace in Cayman over the past few years. But he said the robbers’ sentences, combined with a string of arrests at the end of last year, were a significant step toward stamping them out.
He said the sentences sent a strong message to other criminals and would provide comfort to the victims, including terrified staff at the store, knowing that the men who caused such disruption and distress would pay a serious price.
Jonathan Ramoon, who wielded a loaded gun during the raid, was jailed for 15 years. James McLean who smashed display cases with a hammer received a 12-year sentence, while getaway driver Christopher Myles, got 10 years.
The fourth man – who was pictured on CCTV footage stuffing jewelry into a bright yellow bag – was never caught.
“This is a live inquiry – we have not given up. It is our intention to follow every line of inquiry to get the fourth gang member,” said Mr. Baines.
He said the three men caught in the act have so far declined to name their accomplice, maintaining a code of “honor among thieves.”
Mr. Baines also revealed that two of the men jailed for the robbery had previously been charged with a similarly brazen daylight robbery at ScotiaBank. They were discharged after Justice Alex Henderson raised questions about the reliability of the key witness – an accomplice who had admitted to being involved in the crime.
He believes a small pool of offenders is responsible for the bulk of the armed robberies in Cayman, which he acknowledges have escalated from pizza stores and gas stations to more high-profile public raids.
“What has changed is that some of these robberies have become more high profile and more brazen. Now we are seeing them in tourist areas, in restaurants and bars,” he said.
He said customers had been targeted for their cellphones and cash, creating a heightened level of fear. But he said a series of key arrests has calmed the situation for now.
“Once we took some of these robbery teams off the streets, things stopped. When they get out of prison, we will very likely have to go through this cycle again.”
Mr. Baines endorsed Justice Charles Quin’s praise of the public who came to his aid in catching the Diamonds International robbers. He said his own actions in pursuing the men in his car and striking the gunman with his vehicle had been justified and had helped keep people safe, as well as bringing the robbers to justice.
“I was under no illusion about the capability of armed offenders to inflict harm to myself or members of the public,” said Mr. Baines.
He said he was able to trap the gunman with his car before turning his attention to the other robbers.
“I have never been more relieved in my life to see others coming to my assistance,” the commissioner said. “There were three offenders running around, and members of the public reacted spontaneously and instinctively and came to my aid.”