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Armed robbers ordered to serve lengthy prison sentences

Armed robbers ordered to serve lengthy prison  sentences
Kirth Stapleton (left) and Kyron Bowens must serve lengthy sentences for armed robbery

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For their armed robberies of several individuals in different establishments, as well as the gratuitous shooting of a victim; one young man must serve 18, and the other, 23 years, in prison.

Kirth Stapleton of New Montrose/Edinboro, and Kyron Bowens of Ottley Hall, were each sentenced at the High Court last Friday, December 18.

They faced four counts of robbery, one count of wounding with intent, possession of a firearm with intent to commit an offence, and unlawful use of a firearm.

The two had been convicted by a jury after a full trial, during which they were represented by lawyers Kay Bacchus-Baptiste and Grant Connell; and the crown was represented by assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Karim Nelson.

At sentencing, Justice Brian Cottle, presented the facts of the case, which had come out in the trial.

It is said that on November 12, 2017, several residents of Fairbain Pasture were at a neighbourhood shop. There, four men were involved in a game of dominoes, which was being observed by other persons.

At around 9 pm Stapleton came in through the front door brandishing his gun, while Bowens, armed with a knife, appeared through the back door, pushing a patron back into the shop.

“While Stapleton menaced victims with his weapon, Bowens collected their cash and valuables including cellular phones and jewellery,” Justice Cottle read.

They robbed Movie Pinder of one 14 karat gold chain worth $750, one Samsung Galaxy JS cell valued $499, a Coral cell phone estimated at $60, and $20 cash.

Removed from Sylvester Davis was his gold Blu cellular phone, valued at $480.

The two also robbed Brian Cupid of one Plum cell phone valued at $100, $15 cash and two packs of Pall Mall cigarettes.

“Having completed their brazen robbery, the two prisoners went across the road to another establishment,” the Justice noted.

They threatened the bartender there, took the money from his wallet, and stole liquor, cigarettes and coins from the till.

Brian Sutherland was deprived of $550 in cash, four bottles of Hennessy, a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label Whisky, a bottle of Sunset Strong Rum, 10 packs of Pall Mall cigarettes, and $15 EC in coins belonging to the Bar.

As the two robbers made off in the direction from which they had come, they saw their victim Davis, who is the owner of the first shop.

“Wait, you still here?” Stapleton apparently questioned him, before pointing his gun in Davis’ direction and shooting several times. One of these bullets caught Davis in his leg.

Soon after the robbers left the scene, the police were called, and they arrived promptly, carrying out investigations and interviews.

A party of armed officers then went to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital where Davis had gone for treatment. On their way there, they saw a vehicle which matched the description of a car in which the police had some interest.

The car sped away, and it was chased by the police, before being intercepted along the public road leading to Edinboro. One occupant exited the car, jumped over an embankment and escaped. Bowens, the driver of that car, was detained.

“A search of the vehicle revealed some of the liquor that had been stolen from the Bars earlier. When he was searched Bowens had a quantity of cash, including many coins in his possession,” Cottle stated.

The money was being kept in a plastic bag in the crotch area.

Stapleton was later arrested by the police.

Bowens lawyer noted that her client lost both his parents at a young age, and grew up in a community where he was surrounded by violence.

“He even lost his sister to violence, someone who he was very close to,” she said, referring to a social inquiry report that was written about her client by social welfare officers who interviewed many. Although his sister’s death was painful for him, he did not seek to retaliate against the perpetrators of the crime.

“Unfortunately, he also has a twin who is known to the law and many times the trouble that he gets in is because he has been mixed up for the twin,” she said, noting that he has been beaten about his body with a pipe because he was once mistaken for his twin.

In writing the report, the officer also spoke with the twin brother, and this was mentioned by the judge later on during the sentencing. The twin insisted that his brother was innocent, but could not verify his whereabouts as he had been in prison at the time.

Bowens is said to be a very responsible father to his five and two year old children.

Some of his community members described him as “cool”. “Very interesting that you’d interview three, four, five different persons and they describe him as cool,” Bacchus-Baptiste stated.

While it was mentioned that he was involved in illegal activities in prison, the lawyer posited that there were no charges brought to back up those “hearsay” statements.

Bowens, who did not go to Secondary School, is said to be a welder and diver.

Bacchus-Baptiste also focused on victim impact statements and more of the report, before moving on to anlaysing the sentencing guidelines.

Connell revealed his client to be a former resident of Hospital road, who is the father of a 12-year-old boy.
Stapleton went to Secondary School before dropping out at form 4, “Circumstances beyond his control, he did not further his education at that institution but went to the Kingstown Technical Institute where he was studying for mechanical engineering.”

Later, he worked odd jobs to get by.

After speaking about the application of the sentencing guidelines, the lawyer contemplated the fact that in the past nine months Stapleton has been on bail, he has not caused any issue, he complied with the bail order, and one of the victims indicated that he had forgiven him.

He submitted that there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation for Stapleton.

Called to the stand was character witness Roman Catholic Monsignor, Michael Stewart. He has known Stapleton since 2010, and Stapleton’s mother nearly all her life.

“Since he’s been out of prison, I interacted with him. I find him to be a good young man, and someone I would like to help to make of his life something that would be inspiring for his family and for the community,” the monsignor stated.

The judge, in his sentencing, also noted personal characteristics of the offenders. Bowens has six previous convictions though some are spent and many are for possession of drugs. Stapleton has five.

Using the guidelines for robbery, Cottle decided to start at 18 years’ imprisonment based on the grid for the level of seriousness and consequences of the offence.

He considered the aggravating and mitigating features, and, also considering their record, adding five years to Stapleton’s offence, but making no adjustment for Bowens’.

Although there are four counts of robbery, involving different people, “I have concluded that this was a single spree of criminal behaviour and so the sentences will be concurrent.”

Therefore, Stapleton’s sentence is 23 years, less 2 years five months and nine days. He therefore had 20 years six months and 21 days more to serve from that day.

For Bowens, he has spent two years, four months, and 15 days on remand, and there remained 15 years, 7 months, 15 days for him to serve.

For the offences of wounding with intent both prisoners were sentenced to 15 years in jail; for possession of the firearm with intent to commit an offence Stapleton was sentenced to 20 years in prison, with Bowens receiving 18 years, less time on remand.

They both received six-year prison terms for the unlawful use of a firearm.