Other suspects are being sought in connection with an alleged ATM scam in Barbados and there are fears that an Argentinian man charged with theft of money from two of this country’s financial institutions may interfere with the ongoing probe by the Royal Barbados Police Force.
That was just one of the objections put forward by police constable Kenmore Phillips against a grant of bail for accused non-national Joaquin Alberto Lobo.
The 33-year-old alleged ATM skimmer, from Caseros, Buenos Aires, Argentina, who arrived in Barbados on July 3, is accused of stealing $3, 040 cash belonging to the Barbados Public Workers Credit Union Limited between July 6 and 7. He is also charged with stealing $79, 770 cash belonging to CIBC First Caribbean International Bank (Barbados) Limited between July 5 and 8.
Speaking through an interpreter the non-national denied the first charge but was not required to enter a plea to the second charge, as it is an indictable offence.
In his objection before Magistrate Kristie Cuffy-Sargeant this afternoon prosecutor Phillips said given the “nature, seriousness and complexity” of the offences before the court the Crown strongly believed that the accused would not return before the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court if granted his pre trial liberty at this time.
“He would abscond the jurisdiction . . .
this being a serious indictable matter . . . The accused is a non-national and has no known ties in Barbados. Investigations are still ongoing and other accused are being sought in these matters and if granted bail he may interfere with those investigations,” the prosecutor argued.
But Lobo’s attorneys Andrew Pilgrim, Q.C. and Rashida Edwards argued that it was “routine” to admit accused persons to bail for the sum of money.
Pilgrim also argued that the issue of nationality could be met by the “quantum of the surety” to allay the fears of the prosecution that Lobo was a flight risk although the concern that he may flee was not based on “any knowledge” about the accused.
The defence attorney stated that the prosecutor’s belief that the accused could interfere with the investigation is not grounded in any fact therefore what they are asking is “to lock him up because he is not a Bajan”.
“As I come from a family that contains Bajans and non-nationals I regard the objections as insulting and baseless,” he added.
Pointing to the fact that the media had been following the matter with great attention, Pilgrim questioned whether the prosecution would “focus on the need to have some evidence disclosed” on the accused if it was the intention to “sustain the objections” beyond today’s date.
“Putting it another way . . . so long as this man remains in prison without evidence being brought, we are denying his right to a fair trial. He is a man with a family, a wife and children who rely on him . . . . We must treat him with respect and not as a spectacle,” Pilgrim further submitted.
He also questioned whether the two charges before the court related to any others in other districts apart from the District ‘A’ jurisdiction. However, Phillips responded saying that the investigations were still ongoing so he would be hard-pressed to speak on other charges at this time.
After considering the submissions from the prosecution and the defence Magistrate Cuffy-Sargeant denied the bail application and sent the accused Argentinian to the St Philip prison until August 14.
The accused who was dressed in a red and white t-shirt, black pants and black slippers was then escorted out of the precincts of the court by a prison warden to the holding cells and subsequently transported to Dodds.