Lekhoy Hughes, one of three men involved in a 2020 robbery at a supermarket in Virgin Gorda, was sentenced to 11 years and four months in prison when he appeared in the High Court recently.
Hughes, 22, was charged along with two other residents – North Sound firefighter Rakeem Lennard and Tray Audain – with stealing from Ruby Esther Saballa Manzueta a handbag, a Louis Vuitton handbag, a check from a amount of $336, a pair of $200 air-buds, $500 cash and a Dominican Republic ID card.
They were also accused of robbing Marian Santos-Hernandez of a purse, $3,841 in cash, two bank cards, a white iPhone 11 Plus, a driver’s license and a number of documents at the Bay mini-market. 6, located in the Virgin Gorda Valley. on October 15, 2020.
Hughes previously pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and one count of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger his life.
When considering his sentence, Judge Richard Floyd pointed out that Hughes’ personal story, as described in a social inquiry report, demonstrated that his particular situation was serious, even hopeless.
Hughes, it was noted, suffered multiple family illnesses and deaths and lost the stability and structure of a family. He lost the support of his parents and siblings and found himself in an “artisanal structure” with no regular income.
But Judge Floyd made a point of noting that these circumstances “in no way justify this serious criminal behavior” presented by Hughes.
The accused has spent more than a year in pre-trial detention since his arrest and was convicted for it. The sentence to be served was therefore nine years and seven months.
Hughes was represented in the case by defense attorney, Ruthilia Maxima.
On the date in question, a Virgin Gorda resident contacted the local police station and reported that two-armed masked men had just robbed two women of their belongings as they sat in the front of the store.
Members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police immediately responded to the scene of the incident where they were informed that the robbers had fled in a white rental vehicle shortly after committing the crime.
The witness also informed officers that prior to the incident, the two women were watching a movie on a mobile device when they observed two people dressed in black with shirts covering their entire faces, wearing gloves with guns at the hand. The two individuals approached the complainants from behind and forcefully snatched their purses and fled.
Vehicle apprehended shortly after and a man escaped
The Crown previously told the Magistrate’s Court that during inquiries police received information that the gunmen were fleeing to North Sound in the vehicle described.
Police immediately headed in the direction of North Sound in pursuit of the suspects where they spotted lights on an empty roadside heading towards the North Sound area.
The prosecution further said police eventually reached the area of the North Sound basketball court where they observed a number of parked vehicles, including a white Kia rental jeep that matched the description of the suspect vehicle.
Officers noticed that the vehicle’s engine was still running and, upon approaching the vehicle, one of the occupants exited the passenger side, ran and escaped through a brushy area. Police then found that three other occupants were in the vehicle.
Look for stolen bags inside the vehicle
Crown counsel London noted that Audain’s name was behind the rental of the vehicle and that he was sitting in the driver’s seat when the vehicle was pulled over. The other two accused were both in the rear passenger seats of the vehicle.
All three accused were notified and a search was conducted of the vehicle where two female handbags were found on the front passenger floor of the vehicle. When the accused men were questioned about the bags, all three denied ownership.
The victims arrived at the scene shortly after and were able to identify the bags as the stolen ones.
CCTV footage captured the incident
London further told the court that CCTV footage was recovered from a local mini market where two masked men were seen walking to the front of the store and snatching the two ladies’ bags and fleeing the scene.
One confesses, one denies, the other is silent
The police also conducted interviews with the three defendants. According to the Crown, Hughes admitted to the allegations against him, saying he was among two masked men who stole their bags from the ladies.
Audain, however, denied the allegations and said he was not involved in any theft. Meanwhile, Lennard made no comment in the interview, only answering a few questions.
Copyright 2022 BVI News, Media Expressions Limited. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed.