Robbers arrived in Cayman by boat, court hears

Two men who pleaded guilty to the Aug. 12 robbery of a Savannah store came to Cayman on a boat that was not supposed to land, Dame Linda Dobbs, acting judge of the Grand Court, heard on Wednesday.

Paul Martin, 28, and Romario Codner, who turned 22 last week, previously pleaded guilty to robbing D and D Accessories & Things, using force against the store attendant to steal $2,136 that was the property of Jamaica National Money Transfer Services.

Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson noted that neither wore masks or gloves during the robbery.

After their arrest, he said, Codner gave a no comment interview, but Martin answered some questions and later gave an account of their arrival.

Martin said he entered the Cayman Islands in a boat with four other men: Codner, known to him as “Townman,” a man named Kevin, and two Nicaraguans who piloted the boat. He said he had been asked to help deliver some “stuff” for Kevin’s friend.

The plan was that their boat would stop about 30 miles off the coast of Grand Cayman. Another boat would meet them, refuel their boat and take the “stuff.” But no boat came.

The four men therefore waited until nightfall and came to shore by boat. Kevin left and got a car and then took the others to an abandoned house. A few days later, food ran low and the electricity was cut off.

Martin said some man picked him and Codner up and took them to a business place. After the customers left, Codner “robbed the lady” and then they ran outside, got in the car and left.

Martin said he was not a robber and did not want to go, but he had no choice. He maintained he did not know Codner had a gun.

Mr. Ferguson provided details of the robbery. He explained that as well as being a money transfer service, the business sells items such as household goods, tools and watches. He said there were six or seven customers in the store when Martin and Codner arrived. Codner joined the line for money transactions and Martin went over to a curtain display. After a few minutes, they sat down on chairs next to each other and then Martin left the store.

The cashier asked if she could help Codner and he indicated his friend was outside; he asked what time the store closed and then left. She later let him back in after he used the door buzzer. He pulled out a “shiny” gun from his waistband and told her, “Give me all the money or I will kill you.”

He jumped over the counter barrier and demanded to know where the money was. The cashier was so frightened, she started to cry, Mr. Ferguson said, and she was shaking so much, she could barely open the drawer where the money was. She handed the robber the cash pan.

He pushed the money into his pocket with the gun. He told her to buzz him out, but a second man at the door opened it.

It was established from the CCTV that the robbery had taken about 20 seconds, with the men leaving the store at 8:40 p.m.

Scenes of Crime Officers processed the premises and Codner’s fingerprints were found on the cash pan and the metal frame on top of the counter. Police obtained a search warrant for a residence where they found the two defendants, both of whom are Jamaicans, and one Caymanian.

As reported previously, Codner and Martin were arrested on Friday, Aug. 19, at a residence in the Bodden Town district after an extensive search that included the police helicopter.

Attorneys Laura Larner and John Furniss spoke in mitigation for the defendants. They advised the court that the men had been charged with illegal landing and would be dealt with for that offense in Summary Court after their robbery hearing. Both men had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and neither had any previous convictions, they told the court.

Ms. Larner pointed to Codner’s remorse, as seen in letters he had written to the store cashier and to the government and people of the Cayman Islands.

Mr. Furniss urged the court to give credit for Martin’s early cooperation and his assertion that he was not involved in planning the robbery. However, he accepted that the crime was a joint venture, describing Martin as the lookout man.

Mr. Ferguson pointed out that the gun had not been recovered, so it was still out in the community.

The judge said she would view CCTV from the store that showed the robbery, consider submissions, and pass sentence on Dec. 14.

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