Paul Steven, Gelison William, Hubert Korede, Stewart Korina and Samson Banaso all returned before Deputy Chief Justice Sir Gibbs Salika today.
They were found guilty on April 13 for their involvement in the country’s biggest armed robbery at one time where K5.96 million belonging to Maybank was stolen in Port Moresby between 9:30 and 10am on October 4, 2013.
They were given the opportunity to address the court on their appropriate penalty sentence or submissions on sentence.
They all apologised to the court, their families and the state for their part in the robbery. They all asked the court for suspended jail sentence before their lawyer also addressed the court.
They have been in custody for three years and seven months since their arrest.
Korina told the court they had no life insurance cover during their employment with G4S which led to them planning the robbery after a colleague died in a helicopter crash while on duty in Morobe on Aug 8, 2011.
He said it was out of frustration that they planned the robbery following two failed petitions to their employer.
His colleague, William also raised the same issue. He said they had reasons behind the planning of the robbery and it was because they had no life insurance.
Banaso is the only one who was not an employee of G4S at the time of the robbery.
“Mi no stil man but mi kisim hevi blo ol man nating na nau bai mi kisim taim. (I am not a thief but I have been blamed for something I did not do and now I will be punished for it),” he told the court.
He said police, without a proper search warrant broke into his house when he was arrested and stole valuables from it. His wife and children only returned home to find a ransacked home.
The father of six said his children have suffered since he was taken into custody, and are struggling with their education.
For the count of conspiracy, their lawyer asked for seven years but for the count of stealing, their lawyer asked for terms based on the roles they played in the robbery.
Their lawyer also asked for all those sentence terms to be served at the same time.
Casper Louis of Salamua, Morobe Province pleaded guilty on March 7 for his involvement. His lawyer said a term of between 15 years would be appropriate because he pleaded guilty.
The same term of 15 years sentence was also suggested for Steven, Korede, Korina and Williams by their lawyer.
As for Banaso, his lawyer said he played a minor role in transporting them and suggested a term of 10 years to be imposed by the court.
State prosecutors on the other hand submitted a sentence term of between 20-25 years would be appropriate for the state prisoners in this case.
The court reserved its decision on sentence to early next month.
The now convicted robbers were tried for stealing under the amended section 372(1)(A)(7) of the Criminal Code Act that was done on Sept 18, 2013. The Robbery was committed on October 4, 2013.
Under section 372(1)(A)(7), it involves stealing amounts more than K1 million but not exceeding K10m. Under the amendments, offense under this provision is punishable up to a term of 50 years’ imprisonment.
(Loop PNG picture of the vehicles used in the robbery. Picture by Kennedy Bani.)