Loss was more than financial, bank president says
The sentencing of four men convicted earlier this month after retrial for the June 2012 robbery of Cayman National Bank in Buckingham Square has been adjourned until April 1, at 2 p.m.
The men are also convicted of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to commit the offense.
After their first trial in 2013, George Mignott received 12 years and Rennie Cole nine years.
David Tamasa and Andre Burton received 14-year sentences on the principle of totality; they had previously been convicted and sentenced for the May 2012 robbery of WestStar Television Centre. The first sentencing judge, Justice Alexander Henderson, had used a 12-year starting point and then cited aggravating features to raise the sentence to 14 years, which he made to run concurrently with the WestStar sentence. Tamasa subsequently won his appeal against the WestStar conviction. Burton did not win his appeal.
On Wednesday, at the opening of the new sentencing hearing, Director of Public Prosecutions Cheryll Richards said the sentence on retrial ought not be greater than the original sentence: “It is fair that the defendants not be penalized,” she said. The retrial was ordered by the Court of Appeal on a point relating to the trial judge’s instructions to the jury.
Ms. Richards also advised Justice Ingrid Mangatal that the Crown is seeking a confiscation of assets hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Law. After discussion with defense attorneys, that hearing was set for Wednesday, Sept. 16.
Ms. Richards then presented victim impact statements from people in the bank at the time of the robbery. One spoke of the fear and terror felt during the course of the offenses, and the continuing impact.
A statement from Stuart Dack, president of Cayman National Bank, said the bank had suffered a direct financial loss, indirect financial losses and loss of human capital. The offense was the largest bank robbery in the history of the Cayman Islands, with over half a million dollars taken – $502,436 in U.S. and Cayman currency, the vast majority of which was not recovered.
As a result of the robbery, the bank’s insurance premiums had risen substantially. Profitability had been affected, which in turn impacted employees and shareholders, the court heard.
After the robbery, the bank had closed for the day, which meant a loss of service to customers and loss of revenue. Hundreds of staff hours were then spent investigating, checking records and implementing tighter controls. The cost of this time exceeded $150,000.
Mr. Dack noted the impact on the customers in the bank at the time. He said the greatest tragedy was the psychological and emotional effect on the staff, as well as elsewhere in the banking industry. CNB arranged counseling to deal with employees’ feelings of anxiety, anger, helplessness and/or shame. “Our employees have been robbed of personal confidence and peace of mind,” he said.
The impact of the robbery was felt not only by the staff at Buckingham Square, but at other branches. Nearly three years later, the Human Resources Department still has a hard time recruiting for such positions, he revealed.
The robbery had had an impact on society and Cayman as a whole, Mr. Dack concluded.
Defense attorneys asked Justice Mangatal to consider a lower starting point than the 12 years Justice Henderson had used.