PHILIPSBURG--Twenty-seven year old O.T.G, suspected of having committed eleven armed robberies at Chinese supermarkets and restaurants between July and October 2016, may be facing twelve years imprisonment.
Led before the Judge in the Court of First Instance on Thursday, the defendant pleaded not-guilty. “I am innocent. I am a hardworking man. I never committed any robbery,” he said.
The Prosecutor holds O.T.G. for one of two armed and masked robbers involved in no fewer than 29 robberies committed in the third quarter of last year, bundled together in the so-called Onyx investigation.
The Prosecutor’s Office did not provide direct evidence linking the suspect, and co-defendant K.P. (25), who will be tried at a later date, to the alleged crimes. This led O.T.G’s lawyer Shaira Bommel to state that the evidence against her client was circumstantial.
The Prosecutor said the crimes were all committed following the same modus operandi. All concerned Chinese businesses which were robbed in the evening hours between 6:00 and 9:00pm by two persons.
Victims told the police one of the robbers carried a backpack to stash away money, while the other held two firearms in his hands. In total the two made away with US $16,000 in cash.
K.P. was also involved in the armed robbery at Budget Marine on Waterfront Road on October 19, 2016. On March 2, 2017, he was sentenced to three years for being the driver of the getaway car during this robbery.
The same car was used in a number of the robberies mentioned in O.T.G.’s indictment, the Prosecutor said. Traces of K.P.’s DNA were found on a backpack that was found in his car.
According to the prosecution, K.P. was the man who had entered the Chinese businesses with the backpack.
O.T.G. would have been the man with the guns, but the suspect denied this. “Check the cameras,” he said in response to the allegations.
The Prosecutor said that the armed man had posed with the weapons in a style similar to the way in which the actors in the popular Jamaican film “Shottas” are handling their guns.
K.P. allegedly informed his girlfriend via a WhatsApp message that he was going to do a “move” with his Jamaican partner. O.T.G., who is of Jamaican descent, confessed that he knew K.P. as “Black Boy,” who sometimes came to him to buy marijuana.
The proprietors of Old Tree restaurant in Cole Bay identified one of the robbers as a man speaking with a Jamaican accent, but O.T.G. said it was not him. “That voice is rougher and deeper than mine,” he told the Judge.
The Prosecutor said that “well-structured police work” had led to the arrest of the two suspects. He concerned all 11 robberies mentioned in the indictment, as well as illegal firearm possession proven, and demanded 12 years in prison for O.T.G.
Attorney Bommel called for her client’s acquittal of all charges. “My client denies his involvement with any robbery, and denies that he had a firearm in his possession,” the lawyer said.
“My client has always maintained his innocence. The evidence against my client is nothing more than circumstantial, and insufficient to lead to a conviction,” she stated. “My client is not the only Jamaican on the island,” Bommel added. The Court will give its decision June 8.