PHILIPSBURG – Collin Anthony J. is looking at a 10-year prison sentence for three armed robberies during which he allegedly also robbed his victims of their freedom. The Court in First Instance will pronounce the verdict against the 30-year old defendant on March 15.
The defendant attended the trial in Philipsburg on Wednesday morning via a video link from the prison in Zutphen, the Netherlands, where he is detained since three months.
While J. ranted and raved during an earlier court hearing on January 24, this time he was composed; at the end of the trial he offered his apologies to the public prosecutor and the judge for his earlier behavior. “Excuses accepted,” the judge said.
The police caught J. red-handed during his third robbery; he was released from prison on June 9 of last year “after a sentence of almost fifteen years for similar crimes.”
A month after his release, on July 12, 2017, J. allegedly robbed the OOPS! store of more than $1,000, sunglasses, handbags, trousers and shirts. He threatened a store attendant with a knife and tied her up; this earned the defendant a second charge for unlawful robbing someone of her freedom.
“Don’t make a sound or I will stab you twice in your neck,” he told the frightened woman. Then he told her: “Go down on your hands and knees and take money out of the cash register.”
Lastly he pushed the woman into a dressing room with the words: “Stay here for fifteen minutes and don’t get up. I am going to watch you from the road to make sure you do and if you don’t I will send my boys from Fort Willem after you.”
Two days later J. allegedly robbed Alberto’s Fashion of $200, 100 guilders and some jewelry. He threatened the store owners with a firearm and locked them up.
On July 17 he was at it again, this time with a robbery at Divinitii Jewelry. He threatened people in this store with a firearm and stole jewelry and bottles of Hennessy brandy.
J. confessed to the Divinitii robbery but he denied his involvement in the two other crimes. Detectives linked him to the OOps! and Alberto’s robbery’s because of the tattoos on his hands.
“I am not the only one with tattoos on my hands in St. Maarten,” the defendant said, showing both hands to the camera. “They are not clearly visible on the video footage either.”
The public prosecutor said that the victims at the OOPs! and Alberto’s robberies had recognized the defendant “with 110 percent certainty” in a photo confrontation.
He demanded 10 years of imprisonment and announced that his office will at a later date seek to seize criminal proceeds from the defendant.
Attorney Safira Ibrahim questioned the reliability of the photo-confrontations, because they were for the victims of the OOps! and Alberto’s robberies done on the same day, whereby the photo of the defendant was twice in the same place in the line up.
The attorney said that there is no supporting evidence either and that her client therefore has to be acquitted.
J. has previous convictions dating back to 2000, 2005 and 2007. That latest conviction was for 15 years based on charges of attempted manslaughter and a series of violent armed robberies. “His criminal record should not haunt him for the rest of his life,” the attorney said.
“I take responsibility for what I did. I want to better my life but I never got a chance,” J. said at the end of the trial. “My mother was a drug dealer and my father was a robber.”