33 seconds which cost 4 years in prison

One of the two authors of an armed robbery committed in July 2015 was presented during a summary trial before the Saint-Martin criminal court.

His reasons for the armed robbery have not convinced the prosecutor. The defendant, a 23-year old man from Dominica, explained that he had been threatened by his cannabis supplier to whom he owed money. "He told me either you pay me, or I’ll kill you", the defendant explained. And since he couldn’t pay, the supplier forced him to come with him to commit a robbery.

Doubtful, the Deputy Prosecutor was not convinced due to the amount of the said debt, 95 dollars. Michaël Ohayon indeed considers that the defendant, who receives 700 euros a month for unemployment benefits from Pôle Emploi, supplementing his income with odd jobs, was able to gather enough money relatively easily. "It wasn’t a debt for 3,000 dollars… he could have asked for the money from his family, done some jobs…", he explained.

According to the social investigation conducted according to the procedure, the defendant is "immature" and seems not to fully understand the situation. In Court, he expressed his regrets several times and would like to apologise to the supermarket employee who was threatened. He admits that it was a mistake. "It was the first time for me… I did not know how it worked…", he said. "He isn’t a seasoned offender", acknowledged Michaël Ohayon.



The armed robbery lasted 33 seconds according to the surveillance camera images used by the gendarmes. On 1 July 2015, at around 5:15 pm, two individuals whose faces were hidden, entered the supermarket located in Grand Case. One of them jumped over the counter, grabbed the employee by the neck and ordered him to give him the money from the cash register. Meanwhile, the second individual (the defendant), who was armed, watched. With 280 dollars and euros in their pockets, they left on their scooter. And left a clue which turned out to be crucial for investigators: a sock.

Indeed, a little later, the supermarket employee retrieved this sock from the floor which they did not touch before the gendarmes arrived. It was examined by technicians, and a trace of DNA was found. It matched this 23-year old man who was judged on Wednesday, registered in the file as a result of a former procedure related to the possession of narcotic products. He was therefore identified, arrested and brought before the Saint-Martin criminal court for a summary trial*.

While in custody, he declared himself guilty and gave information about his accomplice. However, the truthfulness of these elements, which have not helped to identify and stop the co-author of the robbery, has been questioned by judicial authorities.

The defendant, who has a vocational training certificate in carpentry and whose residence permit will expire next month, had no stable employment and was planning to return to Dominica with his family. "They were supposed to buy plane tickets next week", declared his lawyer. “We wanted to go home”, said the mother, in tears, after the reading of the deliberation at the hearing.

Despite a clean criminal record, the Court followed the Deputy Prosecutor's requests and sentenced him to five years in prison including a one-year suspended sentence. A detention warrant has also been issued, notifying the transfer to the prison in Guadeloupe in the next hours.

The defendant arrived in Saint-Martin when he was nine years old. Today, he is the father of two daughters who he has not recognised. Both live with their mothers, one in Metropolitan France and the other in Guadeloupe.


* He was also prosecuted for the possession of cannabis. He was controlled on 16 March while in the possession of 28 grams of cannabis herb.







Estelle Gasnet