TWO OF THE FOUR BANDITS WHO INVADED homes in St. George’s at gunpoint, have agreed to testify against Aldin “Aussie” Phillip, said to be the “boss” who led the string of robberies last Christmas.
Donnel Bonaparte and Isaiah Jones pleaded guilty to four counts of robbery with violence and gun possession charges in the number 5 High Court on Wednesday, October 26.
Bonaparte, also known as Trelawney, was sentenced to two terms of imprisonment of eleven years and two eight-year terms.
The twenty-four-year-old sat at the prisoner’s dock with twenty-one previous convictions, a criminal career described as “colourful” by Justice … Aziz.
Jones, who was just 17 when he committed the crimes, has been sentenced to two eight and half-year terms and two six-year terms.
The judge has ordered that the sentences run together which means that Trelawney will serve eleven years and Jones, who had only six previous convictions, will serve eight and a half.
The sentences carried reductions for pleading guilty, which is one third off the maximum and for agreeing to testify against Phillip, who they allege, was the mastermind of the operation.
A guilty verdict at trial would have carried a maximum sentence of thirty years and a minimum of ten years.
Reacting to the sentencing, one of the victims held at gunpoint and robbed in her home, said she expected the convicted men to be given stiffer sentences, given the trauma they inflicted on her.
Jacinta Haywood who lives at the Mount Gay Housing Development, was attacked by the four men around 9pm, along with four others who were at the residence.
The three men and another woman visiting from Carriacou were tied up and restrained with chairs over them while Haywood was marched upstairs with a gun aimed at her and ordered to hand over money and other valuables.
Mobile phones and wedding rings were also taken from the other victims.
Both men wrote letters to the judge, begging for mercy. In the letters, they claim to have been led astray by “the boss” and Bonaparte described his crimes as “a mistake”.
But reports from prison officials provided to the court by probation officials, said Bonaparte had been engaged in the illegal activities at the Richmond Hill prison while awaiting trial and does not seem completely remorseful.
In his letter Jones said unemployment made him do it.
Their lawyer George Prime sought to present mitigating factors on their behalf by first saying that “when you view the statements of the “aggrieved persons the incident can be considered a gruesome one” and evil.
But Prime went on to tell the court that his clients were “led astray by a ring leader”. He noted the ages of the convicted men, Jones still being a teenager.
Justice Aziz described the crimes as intrusive, traumatic and particularly grave, noting that the offending pattern of Bonaparte “seems to be escalating”.
He told the men their culpability in the crime is high and the category of harm inflicted is also high. One person was shot in the foot during the Mt. Gay robbery.
On December 28, the group attacked people both in River Road and at the Housing Development.
Jones and Bonaparte said they were dropped off in River Road by “the boss” to “try something”, which the court was told involved robbing someone who operated a sales van
This first attempt was not successful and the two attacked Kirlan Francis, stealing his phone.
In the Mt gay robbery four men were involved, with Jones and Bonaparte both implicating Phillip, who has also been charged for the crimes.