Solomons Police Arrest Prime Suspect In Westpac Robbery

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Security guard lost 4 fingers in daylight robbery

By Assumpta Buchanan

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 26, 2015) – Police Monday arrested the prime suspect in the brutal $4 million [US$514,000] Westpac robbery that left a security guard with four missing fingers.

Gabi Selo was arrested in the Burns Creek area of east Honiara after many weeks on the run following the January 26 daylight robbery.

He appeared in the Magistrate’s Court yesterday with one count of robbery and another of grievous harm.

Police alleged Selo was the one who hacked security guard Michael Maelea with a bush knife, cutting off four of his fingers on the left hand, while the guard was wheeling a suitcase of cash to a parked vehicle outside the bank.

Police prosecutor Elson Konle told the court yesterday Selo was also wanted for numerous robbery incidents in Honiara.

These include the Kukum shop robbery last year, during which the Chinese shop owner was slashed with a bush knife on the chest, and another in the Ranadi area.

Mr Konle said Gabi’s co-accused in those two alleged robberies was already in custody.

He said in the Westpac robbery, about $295,000 is yet to be recovered of the $4 million that was stolen.

"This is one of the reasons the prosecution is asking the court to remand the accused," Mr Konle told the court.

Duty lawyer Wayne Ghemu of Public Solicitor’s Office, who appeared yesterday, said the defence at this stage has no issues to raise, but wants disclosures from the prosecution.

Acting Deputy Chief Magistrate Jim Seuika remanded Selo in custody until March 11, when he will return to court along with his four co-accused in the Westpac robbery case.

Selo’s co-accused were arrested on the same day of the robbery and placed in custody.

They are Dudley Baemalea, Patteson Amos Otokwai, Jonathan Wanefiolo and Stanley Waneakwasia.

The four appeared in court earlier yesterday and were further remanded until the next date when their lawyers will lodge bail applications.

Selo and his co-accused were accused of robbing about $4 million in front of the Westpac Bank after Gabi allegedly chopped off the security guard’s wrist.

The second guard was hit with a piece of metal, leaving him unconscious on the ground.

The pair were wheeling two suitcases containing a total of $4 million from the bank to a waiting vehicle when the group emerged from the tall flowers in front of the bank and attacked them.

They then took off with the suitcases in a car heading in the westerly direction.

But their vehicle crashed in the Kakabona area following a police chase and three of the accused were arrested on the spot.

The fourth suspect was arrested later that night, while Selo escaped and remain at large until Monday this week.

Police recovered $3.7 million [US$475,000] of the stole cash.

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