Armed robbery: 6 years and 3.5 years in prison for 2 young individuals

Two young people aged 22 and 27 were sentenced on Wednesday morning by the criminal court. They committed two robberies in Concordia on October 26 and November 12.

Last Saturday, while the detached research section of Saint-Martin was investigating an armed robbery committed on October 26 in Concordia in a convenience store, another store got held up. The robbery was committed at around 8 pm by two individuals carrying a handgun and with their faces hooded. The manager was threatened and the cash (which amounted to 1000 euros) was stolen.

The gendarmes noticed the similarity of the operating modes and made a connection between the two cases. On Monday morning, they arrested the two suspects: JM, aged 22 and PH, aged 27.

The manager of the robbed convenience store had identified the two protagonists on October 26 as well as by a witness. "One of them was tall and was a regular customer, I recognized him even though he was wearing a hood," said the store owner while referring to JM. A witness who was outside provided the same elements.

During his custody, JM admitted the charges. He explained that PH pushed him into it. "He has problems too, he’s a friend, I couldn’t let him down," he said before changing his tone and pretending that his friend wouldn’t have given him the choice.


PH lives with his mother who is ill. He’s "in trouble" because he hasn’t received all the benefits which he was entitled to upon his release from prison on July 16. The social investigator who was assigned to draft a report as part of the judicial procedure explained that he did not correctly carry out all the procedures, which delayed the payments. Needing money at the end of October, he decided to commit an armed robbery which enabled him to get 500 dollars and euros in cash. Followed by a second one. "I didn’t need to do a third one because I had enough money and I was going to receive the benefits," he explained to the judges.

JM’s situation isn’t any better. After an unsuccessful experience in the mainland where he went to complete his first year of advanced technical college training (BTS), he returned to Saint-Martin. However, he couldn’t find any work here. He lives with his father who wants to help him. “I no longer want to be a burden for him”, he said. His father took out a loan so that he can leave and finish his studies and today, the loan still hasn’t been paid back.


Unlike most authors of armed robberies, JM and PH have skills and diplomas for finding work. JM has a baccalaureate in electronic engineering with the distinction “quite well” and PH has a certificate of professional competence (CAP) in pastry. "He has a high level and could easily find a job with the season that will soon begin", noted the social investigator in her report about PH. "But they preferred the easy solution to make money by committing robberies", said the judges.

For that, PH got a weapon "in the ghetto" but this happened completely by accident, according to what he said. One day, while he was walking, he almost fell because he had just "slipped on a weapon that was in the mud". He took it, hid it and then went back to take it when he needed it. He said that it was in poor condition. "It was rusty and didn’t work," he said. After the second robbery, he threw it away because he no longer needed it to steal since he had enough money. However, he said that he did not provide a weapon to JM. The latter explained that he also found one "in the ghetto". "It was a fake weapon, a BB gun," he said.

Before the judge, both admitted to "having made a mistake" and apologized. They didn’t want to scare the convenience store managers. They insisted on the fact that they were not violent. The investigation revealed that the weapon was placed on the counter. "An unusual crime," noted the Deputy Prosecutor for whom, the two suspects are also the authors of a third armed robbery committed on September 15 according to the same operating mode.

"I made a mistake, I know," said JM on several occasions. PH raised his fists joined together (as if they were handcuffed) and gestured by whistling that he’s going to prison, thus showing the judge that he knows what’s going to happen at the end of the hearing.

"We cannot let authors of armed robberies leave the court free", said the presiding judge, Gérard Egron-Reverseau. "These are the most serious charges that the Court has had to judge in Saint-Martin. The sentence is ten years," noted the representative of the public ministry for which the fight against armed robberies is a priority on the French side.

The sentences handed down are consistent with the requisitions: five years in prison, including an eighteen month suspended sentence for JM and five years in prison for PH. This is his ninth conviction.

Furthermore, two detention warrants have been requested; the two protagonists who were separated during the adjournment of the hearing [the time needed for the deliberations] will be transferred to the Baie-Mahault penitentiary center this afternoon.

PH will have to serve an additional year. In addition to being a repeat offender, he was on a suspended sentence. In August 2015, he was sentenced to two years in prison, including a one-year suspended sentence. He was released after eleven months. The Court therefore revoked the suspended sentence.

The two individuals were also prosecuted for the robbery of a convenience store on September 15 but they were released due to a lack of sufficient material evidence.




Estelle Gasnet