15th April 2021, 17:28
Closing arguments have been heard from all parties in the 1.5 million euro New Harbours robbery trial at the Supreme Court.
Local man Hamza Mesmoudi and Morrocan national Hakim El Lagmich each face one count of robbery and one count of conspiracy to rob from tobacco warehouse Southease Ltd, back in 2017. They deny all charges.
In what is expected to be the penultimate day of the trial, the Crown and both defence lawyers placed a lot of focus on the testimonies of Samir Douaoui and Rachid Behdaoui – the pair that have been serving time in prison after pleading guilty in 2019 to their involvement in the robbery.
Christian Rocca QC, acting for the Crown, said the fact that the pair had each named both defendants, Hamza Mesmoudiand Hakim El Lagmich, showed their testimonies were true.
Calling Behdaoui an ‘entertaining witness,’ Mr Rocca said there was no doubt that he was a liar and a criminal and asked the jury why he and and the other witness would name the same people.
Christopher Brunt, acting for 30 year-old Mr Memoudi and Christopher Pitto, acting for 35 year-old Mr El Lagmichargued, however, that the witnesses were liars, whose evidence could not be relied on. Earlier this week, Rachid Behdaoui told the court that ‘we all lie to the police.’
Mr Rocca reminded the jury of agreed facts such as that a robbery took place, the time it took place and the use of Mr Mesmoudi’s fathers car during the incident.
The Crown has placed Mr Mesmoudi at the scene in CCTV footage of the robbery depicting an individual – alongside others - in a mask and hat.
The Prosecution also highlighted Mr Mesmoudi’s DNA was found on tie wraps used to hold employees hostage during the robbery and that the man in the CCTV footage was not wearing gloves.
Christopher Brunt, acting for Mr Mesmoudi told the court that his client's defence was that he was not the man in the footage - ‘the man in the hat’, he said.
He put to the jury that something did not sit quite right about the case, adding a large amount of cash was taken and there was some confusion about how much was taken amongst witnesses. He has put to the witness, Rachid Behdaoui, that he is being paid to testify against Mr Mesmoudi.
For his part, Christopher Pitto, acting for Mr El Lagmich, said there was no doubt his client was in the warehouse on the day of the robbery, but argued he was a victim caught up in the situation, rather than a co-conspirator. He said his client's DNA found on tie wraps at the scene was there because he was one of those tied up.
Mr Pitto said that there was no electronic evidence that the 35 year-old was part of the heist, just the word of the two men serving time for the robbery.
All parties appealed to the jury to use common sense when deliberating.
Puisne Judge Karen Rammage Prescott will sum up the trial on Friday.