Blackbeard's robbers get 12 and 9 years

Three men who robbed Blackbeard’s Liquor Store in Grand Harbour last December were sentenced to 12 years in prison and a fourth robber was given a nine-year sentence on Wednesday. 

Justice Francis Belle sentenced Andrew Lopez, 22; Randy Connor, 25; and Bron Webb, 22, to 12 years each. An 11-member jury returned unanimous verdicts against the defendants after trial in August. 

The men were found guilty of robbing the store on the night of Dec. 17, 2014, of CI$4,604.42 and US$582; a second charge of robbing a customer in the store; and possession of an unlicensed firearm, a gold-colored shotgun with three live rounds of ammunition. 

For the same offenses, Devon Wright Jr., 24, received nine years. Wright had pleaded guilty at an early stage and the judge said he was entitled to a discount. 

The robbery was caught on CCTV. 

Justice Belle appeared via video link from St. Lucia. With time and technology constraints, he did not give his full judgment, but said he would send it in its entirety within a few days. 

He did explain that he took into account sentencing guidelines and previous cases, along with victim impact statements. 

In Wright’s case, the two robbery sentences were eight years each. The judge noted that the mandatory minimum sentence after a guilty plea for the unlicensed firearm is seven years. Because the firearm was used in the robbery, he increased the seven years to nine years and made all sentences run concurrently. 

For the other three men, the robbery sentences were 10 years. The mandatory minimum sentence for an unlicensed firearm is 10 years on a not guilty plea; given that the shotgun was used in the robbery, the judge increased this sentence to 12 years. All sentences run concurrently. 

At a sentencing hearing in October, defense attorneys had submitted that the sentences should be no more than 10 and seven years because of what they described as the “amateurish and inept” way in which the robberies were carried out. 

Lopez, for example, used his mother’s distinctive black Ford Escape SUV as the getaway vehicle following the robbery. At the time of the hold-up, he was wearing an electronic monitor, which enabled police to track his movements. 

All four men were found at Lopez’s house or yard in nearby Prospect within an hour of the robbery. The gold shotgun was found in the attic of the house the next day. A handgun also used in the robbery was not recovered. 

A purse stolen from a customer at the store was also found in a storeroom on the premises. 

At the October hearing, Justice Bell ordered that the money recovered be returned to its owner. 

Security camera footage from Blackbeard
Security camera footage from Blackbeard’s Liquor Store shows the robbery in progress. Faces of bystanders have been pixelated. Four men convicted of the robbery were sentenced on Wednesday.