7th April 2021, 20:44
Wednesday was the second day in the New Harbour robbery trial, with a turn of events taking both the Crown and Defence by surprise: a key witness claimed he was in possession of previously unseen evidence which would incriminate both defendants.
Local man Hamza Mes-moudi and Moroccan national Hakim El Lagmich each face one count of robbery and one count of conspiracy to rob €1.5 million from the warehouse of a tobacco wholesaler.
Earlier in the day, the court heard from the crown that, although €1.5 million had been stolen, another box containing half a million euros had been left behind at the warehouse, totalling two million euros.
However, a discrepancy arose when both the owner of the business (who wasn't present during the robbery) and his son, who acts in a managerial capacity for his father and was there on the day of the robbery, both separately claimed there had only been €1.5 million on the premises, of which €1 million had been taken.
The owner's son later amended this claim after reading his own witness statement from 2017, in which he had said two million was present on the day.
Cross-examining the manager's sons, Mr El Lagmich's lawyer questioned where the money had come from, who it had belonged to initially, why there was so much cash on the premises and why it was in euros rather than pounds - all of which was explained as being part of the usual running of a tobacco wholesale business which, according to the owner and his son, made between £100,000 and £400,000 a day.at the time.
The owner's son, who suffered multiple facial injuries when assaulted during the robbery, told the court that he looked through his employee's - Mr El Lagmich - phone some time after the robbery. Mr El Lagmich had continued to work for the business for some time, having not initially been a suspect in the case.
Adding that he found a message from Mr Mesmoudi, the second defendant in this case, saying, "It was like a Hollywood movie, everything went to plan." and took a picture of it.
Both defendants' lawyers accused the witness of fabrication, with Mr Mesmoudi's lawyer, Christopher Brunt, saying, "you are a liar, and this is an invention you have made up on the spot."
Representing Mr El Lagmich Christopher Pitto said "it was a complete invention.".
Acting for the Crown, Christian Rocca QC asked the witness why he had not supplied this evidence at any previous stage, to which he replied that he'd had a lot on his mind, and thought he had mentioned it to police.
The owner's son has been asked to provide evidence of this exchange of messages between the defendants.
The trial continues.