A five-man military court heard today that a Barbados Defence Force (BDF) soldier escaped from custody and caught a ZR van, after allegedly stealing one of his colleagues’ official camouflage uniforms from a clothes line at St Ann’s Fort.
This came to light during the opening presentation of prosecutor Captain Sandra Blackman, as private Timothy Bancroft faced a court martial at the BDF headquarters on three charges –– stealing, escaping custody and disobedience to standing orders on November 28, 2013. He allegedly contravened the standing orders that prohibit soldiers from boarding public service vehicles other than at a bus stop.
When asked by presiding judge Major Christopher Birch to respond to the charges, Bancroft, who the court heard was a military policeman, pleaded not guilty on all counts.
Speaking in the first full sitting, prosecutor Blackman informed the court that Private Jamaar Mottley, who was the ambulance driver on the day in question, arrived on duty at around 6 a.m. and washed his camouflage suit and placed it on the line to dry, before leaving for Independence Day rehearsals.
She said that after he returned to barracks at about 6 p.m., in preparation to go home, Mottley discovered his uniform missing and reported the matter to duty officer Colour Sergeant Michelle Thompson. The prosecuting officer said that that report triggered a series of events, including a lockdown of the St Ann’s base to carry out a comprehensive search of vehicles and individuals.
While the search was being conducted, she added, a vehicle driven by the accused was stopped at the sentry gate. That car, it was revealed to the court, was owned by another officer –– Private Andrew Legall –– who happened to be one of the officers at the gate at the time.
The five-man tribunal was told that Legall had loaned the accused his car keys for the day. Prosecutor Blackman submitted that after the car was stopped and the accused opened the trunk, a camouflage T-shirt was found, which the accused said was his.
However, on further examination, added the prosecutor, another item of camouflage clothing was found underneath. Evidence was that the missing uniform was found wrapped around the spare tyre. Bancroft was subsequently placed under arrest, but the tribunal was told he later ran past three military police officers in the direction of Bay Street and caught a ZR van in front of the Barbados Light & Power Company.
The military policeman who oversaw the search of the car and later questioned the accused testified that Bancroft was too fast for him and he did not even try to catch him.
Bancroft was later caught by a specially assigned team of officers on a Transport Board bus going to Josey Hill/Connell Town. The accused is being represented by Sub Lieutenant Rita Evans. The hearing continues tomorrow morning at St Ann’s Fort.