By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A FORMER prison escapee’s hopes at overturning his 18-year sentence for robbing a local jewellery store and two people at gunpoint of over $100,000 worth of cash and merchandise have been dashed by the Court of Appeal.
Appellate Justices Jon Isaacs, Sir Michael Barnett and Milton Evans unanimously agreed Mario Taylor should continue serving his sentence for robbing Michael Anthony Jewellers of $123,123 worth of jewellery.
Taylor, while at the store, also robbed William Malone of a wrist watch worth $1,000 and $500 in cash and Felicia Darville of a diamond bracelet, diamond ring, wristwatch and a silver and gold ring.
At trial the Crown had relied on Darville’s identification evidence along with a confession statement from the accused.
Taylor, meanwhile, gave sworn testimony and claimed that he did not rob anyone and alleged he was beaten by Officer Ranger to sign both his record of interview and statement.
Nonetheless, on October 3, 2017, the jury found him guilty 7-2 on all three counts of armed robbery. He was later sentenced to 18 years on each count minus the three years he spent on remand.
Taylor appealed both his conviction and sentence, asserting the former was both “unsafe and unsatisfactory”, and that the latter was “unduly harsh and severe”. He also filed some eight other grounds of appeal.
However, the appellate judges said Taylor failed on all of his grounds. They further charged that the trial judge applied “all the proper principles” in arriving at his sentence, thus negating the assertion that the sentence is either too harsh or severe.
The appellate judges further noted armed robbery is a “serious offence” that carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. In Taylor’s case, however, the appellate judges said he did not receive anywhere near the maximum.
In August 2018, Taylor was sentenced to three years in prison by Magistrate Kara Turnquest-Deveaux after admitting to a thwarted escape plot from the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDCS).
Taylor admitted that sometime between the day he was convicted and August 3, 2018, he removed a piece of steel from a bathroom at the facility and moved it to his A-block cell.
He told the court he hid the item in a section of the ceiling he had access to. He later added that over the course of two months, he used the steel to chip away at the ceiling while his cellmates were out in the yard.
Taylor, in agreeing to the details of his offences, admitted he used three buckets left in his cell to reach the ceiling. He also acknowledged he would hide his efforts using a curtain to prevent passing officers and prisoners from looking into his cell while he carried out his plot.
Taylor said once he was successful in creating an area to enter the roof, he did so on two occasions to hide a bag of clothes and to further attempt to cut into the facility’s metal roof.
He said he was unsuccessful in his attempt to carry out the latter.
In their discovery of the hole, prison officials said they also discovered a garbage bag with a rope made of cloth.
Taylor, who was committed to prison the year prior on the armed robbery conviction, said he had battled “personal problems” since being sentenced.
He explained his time in prison had been hard, suggesting medical issues with an aunt and other family matters have taken a toll on him, placing him in a frame of mind in which he “wanted to assist” his family.