PHILIPSBURG–Three days before his 24th birthday Clifford Nathaniel Noel received an early “present” from the Court of Appeals, which slashed his previous prison sentence for armed robbery by two years.
The Court of First Instance sentenced Noel on November 29, 2017, to eight years for having committed armed robbery at Ahui supermarket on A.Th. Illidge Road on March 17, 2017, during which some US $400 and several phone cards were taken at gunpoint.
Two days later, the same method was used to take $200-250 and telephone cards from Wing Da supermarket on Nazareth Road. On March 28, 2017, Wing Da was “visited” again. This time the culprit(s) made away with $200 and telephone cards.
Noel was also found guilty of being the chauffeur of two persons who were planning to commit theft at Carrefour supermarket on March 12, 2017, and of illegal firearm possession in the period of March 17-19, 2017.
During Noel’s appeal hearing, the Solicitor-General called on the Court to confirm the initial verdict, but attorney-at-law Remco Stomp pleaded with the Court to acquit his client of involvement in the March 12 and 28, 2017, robberies.
Unlike the lesser Court and the Solicitor-General, the Appeals Court did not find it legally and convincingly proven that Noel was one of two armed robbers who raided Wing Da on March 28, 2017, around 3:30pm.
The suspect denied his involvement and there are no witnesses who pointed him out as one of the two robbers who were captured on video-surveillances cameras. These two robbers had their faces covered, making them virtually unrecognisable.
What remains are indications of Noel’s involvement in this robbery, such as his confession that he committed the March 19 robbery during which the culprits used the same modus operandi as during the robbery nine days later.
The Joint Court said that questions remained, but it could not be established “beyond any reasonable doubt” that Noel was among the March 28, 2017, robbers.
The Court of Appeals did find Noel guilty of involvement in the planned Carrefour robbery of March 12, 2017. The Court held him as an accessory to the crime, as he knew that his two co-defendants had the intention to raid the supermarket.
Noel’s statements that he did not have any knowledge of their plans were rejected, as he had driven the two to Carrefour and had waited near the car, “from which the apparent intention appears to drive away together after the robbery,” the Court stated in the verdict.
Within one week’s time, the defendant first aided two men in their attempt to commit armed robbery at a supermarket in driving them to the scene of the projected crime and dropping them off, followed later by two armed robberies he committed at Chinese mini-markets during which he took money and telephone cards, the Appeals Court said. However, due to his acquittal of a third robbery the Court decided to impose a lesser sentence.
Noel was sentenced on May 25, 2016, to 180 days, 157 days of which were suspended, on three years’ probation. As the armed robberies were committed during the probation period, the Solicitor-General also requested the execution of the suspended sentence of 157 days, which request the Court granted.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/81389-armed-robber-sentenced-to-6-years-in-appeal-case