Former Kaieteur News employee Ryan Wharton and his accomplice Harry Songster have pleaded guilty to carrying out a brazen robbery at the said newspaper entity and have been sentenced to 48 months and 50 months’ imprisonment, respectively.
When the pair, along with their three co-accused appeared before Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman at the Diamond/Golden Grove Magistrates’ Courts on Monday, they changed their not guilty plea to guilty. As such, the Magistrate jailed both of them.
They admitted that between October 9 and 10, 2022, at 24 Saffon Street, Charlestown, Georgetown, while being armed with a gun, they robbed Kaieteur News owned by Glenn Lall of $38.8 million in cash, a Republic Bank cheque valued at $9.1 million, US$9360, a .32 Taurus pistol and ammunition valued at $515,000, a firearm case valued at $25,000, six magazines valued at $60,000, among other items.
They also robbed Noel Junior of $5000 and Wayne Little of a $44,000 cell phone.
Also facing the same charges are Joshua Junor, 35, a former security officer at Kaieteur News and of Middle Street, La Penitence, Georgetown; Lemuel Grant, 23, a clerk of Russell Street, Charlestown, Georgetown; and Ivor Belingie called “Wild Life”.
These men have pleaded not guilty, with Grant alone being released on $200,000 bail.
Grant’s lawyer, Eusi Anderson, is contending that the only part his client played in the commissioning of the crime, was lending his motor car to Wharton, who is his cousin, unknowing that he was going to use the car to commit a robbery.
According to him, at the time of the robbery, his client was at a popular bar, and CCTV footage from the establishment will be presented to support his alibi.
Collis Heywood and Kevin France, on the other hand, were separately charged for the unlawful possession of guns and ammunition. The two charges read to Heywood, a 40-year-old chef of Lot R2-578 Canary Street, Tucville, Georgetown, stated that on October 10, 2022, at Georgetown, he had a .32 ammunition and 210 matching rounds in his possession, when he was not the holder of a firearm licence enforced at the time.
Meanwhile, France, 35, a taxi driver of East Ruimveldt, Georgetown, was accused of having a 9mm pistol along with 10 matching rounds in his possession when he was not the holder of a firearm licence enforced at the time.
Police Prosecutor Neville Jeffers had initially told the court that investigations revealed that the robbery was planned a week prior by Wharton, the mastermind. According to the prosecutor, a probe into the robbery led to the arrest of Heywood and France—both of whom were found with Kaieteur News’ firearm in their possession.
Guyana Times had previously reported that three bandits walked into Kaieteur News in the wee hours and held three of its employees at gunpoint, before carting off millions of dollars in cash.
Wharton, who had previously worked with the company as a Research Assistant, and of Canary Street, Tucville, Georgetown, was arrested shortly after and confessed to plotting the armed robbery. Songster, on the other hand, lives at Hyde Park, Timehri, East Bank Demerara (EBD).
The Police had recovered over $6 million of the stolen cash, the stolen pistol and ammunition, the broken safe, and the car used in the robbery. From the outset, Lall had asserted that the robbery was an “inside job”.