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Con man taxi driver ordered to repay $80,761

Con man taxi driver ordered to repay $80,761

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TAXI MAN Walcott ‘Roache’ Haywood who conned a businesswoman from Tobago out of $80,761, pretending to sell her a house that needed repairs, must compensate her within three months or go to jail.

Haywood had pleaded guilty to five counts of deception on September 25, 2019, and was to return for sentencing.

However, when the day of reckoning came it was announced that he was hospitalized.

Due to his apparent ill health ‘Roache’ was not sentenced until March 2.

Submissions were written before this date, and submitted on the prosecution’s side by crown counsel Karim Nelson. On the offender’s side was Queen’s Counsel Bertram Commissiong.

The accepted facts are that ‘Roache’ was well acquainted with the Tobagonian business woman, Marilyn Duke, before the deception; because he served as her taxi driver whenever she would come to St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

When Duke visited SVG in April 2013, along with her son, Leo Francis, a building contractor, she employed ‘Roache’ to drive her as she is used to doing.

The Lodge Village resident informed Duke at some point that he had inherited a house from his father, and wanted to show them the property as he was inclined to sell it.

He took the mother and son to Kingstown Park, and offered to sell the house to them for $70,000. Duke told ‘Roache’ that she would like to purchase it, and let her son examine the house to find out how much repairs it would need to be to her satisfaction.

The mother and son returned to Tobago on April 15, 2013.

Duke stayed in contact with ‘Roach’ throughout what was supposed to be the repairs on the house. Consequently, on April 26, Duke sent US$421 via Western Union for purchase of galvanize sheets.

He confirmed to her that he received the money, and purchased the galvanize.

On May 3, 2013, Duke sent ‘Roache’ a bank draft in the sum of $67,000, as part payment for the house, and then US$421 via Western Union. ‘Roache’ continued to confirm receipt of the money.

Duke and her son returned to SVG on May 11, and were picked up by ‘Roache’ at the airport.

He reminded Duke that she had outstanding money for him, and asked her to take out a document from a pouch behind the passenger seat. This was an estimate for materials needed for repairs.

Therefore, she paid him a further sum of US $1,750 before ‘Roache’ dropped them at their hotel.

Duke’s trip to SVG came to an end without seeing the house, as Haywood made numerous promises to take them to see it, but never followed up on them.

When she returned to Tobago, he kept giving her updates on the repair work of the house.

For two slings of cement that he said he needed, Duke sent another sum, amounting to US$740. On another date, for taxes to change the title deed, she sent EC$3,500 to him at his request. On another date, for workmen and the purchase of rafters, Duke sent him EC$1,500, at his request.

In July, Duke came to SVG once more, and was met by ‘Roache’, this time without his taxi. He let someone else drop her to the hotel, saying that he would take her to see the house later. ‘Roache’ then met her at the hotel and gave her what he said was a title deed, telling her to look over it.

However, he did not return to take her to see the house, and all her calls were ignored.

After leaving SVG, she returned in October, and made a report to the police.

Further evidence the police gathered against ‘Roache’ was that in forming his web of deceit he gave a name of a fictional lawyer – Jonathan Stone, as handling the conveyance.

In an interview with the police, he is said to have confessed that “Me bin want sell she the house but me nah get through. Me spend the money buy the van, and fix ah house at Rillan, but me go ge she the van and pay she back the rest money.”

It was decided by Justice Brian Cottle that ‘Roache’ would have to pay her the money – $80,761, within three months of the date of sentencing. Provided he pays the sum, his sentence of two years and four months on each count (running concurrently) will be suspended for one year.

If he fails to pay in three months, the jail sentence will apply for the over 70-year-old offender.

He was also fined $2000 forthwith, with a default of one year in prison.

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