Elmer Wright of George Town was convicted of robbing an elderly couple in a home invasion, and for having 112 rounds of ammunition, a bulletproof vest, along with a string of other offences.
The charges arise from two separate incidents which resulted in two separate trials, that were prosecuted by two different attorneys and heard by two different judges.
The charges in relation to the ammunition and bulletproof vest dates back to July 2017 when police found the items tied in a plastic bag in a bushy plot of land along Desmond Avenue in George Town.
During a two-day trial last week, prosecutor Nicole Petit told Justice Philip St. John-Stevens that a single fingerprint had been recovered from the plastic bag. That fingerprint returned a positive match to Wright’s left forefinger. The court also heard that in July 2017 Wright was fitted with an electronic ankle monitor.
Data downloaded from the monitor showed Wright was in the bush for five minutes. During that five-minute window, the monitor tracked Wright at five different locations.
When giving evidence, Wright said he remembered going into the bush, but he could not remember what he was doing on the day the monitor recorded his movements.
“I went into the bush to [defecate] and to hunt crabs and iguanas,” said Wright. “But right now, I feel like I am being set up, because I’m hearing police saying they have my fingerprint on a bag. I don’t know anything about any bullets, or bulletproof vest. I handle [a lot of] bags and jars in that area, so someone might have just taken up a bag that I touched and used it to hide the bullets and vest.”
Justice St. John-Stevens called Wright a “consummate liar”, saying he had arrived at the guilty verdicts largely by “common sense”.
“I am convinced that both the ammunition and the bulletproof vest were left by the same person,” said St. John-Stevens. “I reject that some other person placed it there. He is a consummate liar and I’m sure his explanation on why he visited the bush was a lie from start to finish.”
St. John-Stevens returned his guilty verdicts on Tuesday morning. Later that afternoon, Wright returned to the dock before Justice Roger Chapple to hear the verdict for his role in a home invasion and robbery. However, midway through the verdict, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake rocked the courthouse, forcing everyone to evacuate, and the proceedings were suspended for the day.
Home invasion and robbery
On Wednesday morning, Justice Chapple resumed his judgment delivery.
Wright, together with brothers Nikel Thomas, 25, and Cain Thomas, 19, and a fourth man who is still facing related charges, are all said to have played varying roles in a string of offences on 17 June 2017. The Compass is not identifying the fourth man ahead of his trial.
Nikel Thomas admitted to being the lookout for a police presence. Although he was not at the site of the actual burglaries, he pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and simple burglary at the start of the judge-alone trial last year.
Cain Thomas pleaded guilty to attempted burglary, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence, damage to property, aggravated burglary and robbery. He then went on to give evidence against Wright. He also implicated the fourth person.
Cain Thomas told the court that he, Wright and the fourth man stole a Honda car. He said, from there, the trio attempted to burgle a West Bay home. However, after being frightened away by an alarm, they moved on to Prospect where they broke into an elderly couple’s home.
He testified that they kicked down the door on the sleeping couple, and then bound them to chairs with duct tape and threatened to kill them while brandishing a gun, which was never recovered. They then robbed the couple of cash and jewellery and stuck the elderly man on the knee with a hammer. At the time, all three men had their faces covered.
When returning his verdicts, Justice Chapple said he relied on the testimony of Cain Thomas, cellphone data and DNA evidence.
“I’m convinced that Cain Thomas’ evidence is credible and can be relied upon,” said Chapple, who then went on to reject Wright’s evidence.
The judge said he did not believe Wright’s claims that he was not present at the crimes, and he rejected the notion that someone else would have stolen Wright’s phone and brought it along to commit the crimes. He added that although it is possible that someone else could have transferred Wright’s DNA onto the clothing recovered from the robbery, it was more likely that it was Wright who was wearing the clothing at the time.
Chapple found Wright guilty of attempted burglary, possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an offence, damage to property, aggravated burglary and robbery. Justice Chapple acquitted Wright of theft in relation to the stolen car.
Wright was remanded into custody.
Following the conclusion of Wright’s trial in late November, the fourth man was arrested in relation to the same matter. He has since made an initial court appearance and has been remanded into custody.