Rum Point home invasion trial starts

The Courthouse Building in downtown George Town. – photo: Taneos Ramsay

Trial began in Grand Court this week for a man charged with robbery and causing grievous bodily harm after a home invasion in Rum Point in January this year.

William David McLaughlin-Martinez is accused of being the lookout man as another person went into the premises while an elderly couple and their helper were there.

Crown counsel Greg Walcolm opened the case to a jury of four women and three men on Monday afternoon. Court then adjourned so that the jurors and judge, Dame Linda Dobbs, could be driven to the site where the alleged offenses occurred. The defendant and his attorney, Nicholas Dixey, attended also, along with prison officers, police, court staff and a court reporter who recorded questions and observations at the scene.

Mr. Walcolm told the jury that the Crown had the lookout man on trial, while the person who went into the house was not in court. But, he continued, it did not matter if it was the lookout or the perpetrator: as long as they acted with the same intention, they were both guilty. He described the victims as people who owned property in the Rum Point area and came to Cayman twice a year. On this trip they had arrived on Dec. 12, 2015.

On Jan. 11, around 6:15 p.m., the man was sitting on the porch working on an iPad. His wife, who has mobility problems, was in a recliner in the living room. The helper was in the kitchen, preparing dinner.

The wife then heard a commotion and she could see her husband lying on the floor. She called to the helper to assist him. When the other woman went to the porch, she was grabbed by her hair and felt a knife to the side of her neck. The person who grabbed her said, “Where is the money and the jewelry?” She said she did not know. Meanwhile, the homeowner was still unconscious, bleeding from his eye and head.

The intruder took jewelry from the man’s wife, saying, “Give it to me or I will kill you.” He then allowed the helper to help the man sit up, and had her remove the man’s watch and two rings. The man told him, “Take what you want, but don’t hurt us.”

The intruder searched some luggage and found several thousand dollars in US$100 notes and asked if there was any more money.

Still holding the knife, the intruder led the man and helper upstairs, telling the man’s wife,

“Don’t call the police. I have someone watching who will kill you.”

After going through rooms upstairs, they came down again, with the intruder asking where the money and jewelry were. He took US$400 and approximately CI$100 from a wallet. He placed the man’s iPad and a bottle of liquor in a bag, dropping the knife. The helper was able to get a look at it before he picked it up and left. The incident lasted 15 to 20 minutes.

The man was described as wearing a bandana on his face, but when it slipped, a mustache could be seen.

Before leaving, the intruder cut the phone wires. He told the victims that if he heard police sirens he would come back and kill them.

After he went to the door, he was heard to say, “Are you there?” but no answer was heard.

At 6:33 p.m., 911 was called. The male victim was examined by a doctor and found to have facial injuries that included a fractured bone. The injuries were the result of blunt force trauma; they were serious and likely to be permanent.

The value of the physical items stolen was $33,190, Mr. Walcolm said.

The case against McLaughlin-Martinez was based primarily on interviews with him, the prosecutor told the court.

The defendant told police he had worked at the house. On the day of the incident he went to North Side to see if any occupants were in the house, and if no one was there he was to tell someone in Bodden Town. He said he went because he owed $2,800 after buying drugs. He said he observed the robbery from behind some hedges 20 to 30 feet away.

Mr. Walcolm told the jurors that based on the defendant’s own account, they could find that he encouraged or assisted the intruder by locating the house and then remaining as lookout.

The defendant had observed persons inside the house and he knew the intruder went there to steal, the prosecutor said. The Crown’s case, therefore, was that the defendant was aware that it was a probable consequence that the person who went into the house was going to use violence or threaten violence in order to steal.

Once the defendant observed violence and the threat to use a weapon, he continued in the criminal enterprise and accepted a share of the robbery proceeds, Mr. Walcolm pointed out.

Trial continued Tuesday morning with the male homeowner giving evidence.

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