Friday, June 24, 2005

Robbery case comes before Court

A man with a local accent robbed a young German woman after grabbing her from behind while she was reading and listening to music in the Alameda Gardens, the Supreme Court was told yesterday.

Doris Ilmer was 20 years old and on a work placement in Gibraltar when the incident is alleged to have taken place on July 16th, 2004.

She told the court how, at around 8pm that day, a man had snuck up behind her and surprised her while she was sitting in the Bandstand in the gardens.

“I felt an arm around my neck and at first I was thinking someone was joking with me,” Ms Ilmer said.

The man took her disc player and then forced Ms Ilmer to walk onto the nearby bridge, where he pushed her against the rail and ordered her to hand over her money.
He then forced her towards some disused toilets behind a nearby red telephone booth, where he took some jewellery from her.

Still standing behind Ms Ilmer with his arm round her neck, he asked if he could kiss her and, after she said no, lifted her shirt and kissed her back. Then he ran away.

During the incident, Ms Ilmer did not see her assailant’s face – he had covered it, apparently with his t-shirt because he was bare-chested at the time – but she saw that he was wearing blue shorts and dirty white trainers.

About 20 minutes prior to the incident, while sitting in the Bandstand, Ms Ilmer said she had seen a man jogging past her at a distance of about 8 metres. The jogger, she said, had been wearing a dark blue t-shirt, blue shorts and dirty white trainers. He had a tattoo on the calf of his left leg.

Although she did not see the tattoo during the attack, the shorts and trainers were enough to convince Ms Ilmer that the jogger was also the assailant.

On July 17th, the day after the incident, police officers arrested the defendant in the case, Andrew Bonavia of 51/7 Flat Bastion Road, on suspicion of robbery.

Mr Bonavia, who has pleaded not guilty to one count of robbery, claims he was not in the area at the time.

At the time of his arrest, Mr Bonavia was wearing a black t-shirt, blue shorts with grey stripes down the side and dirty white trainers.

The defendant has a tattoo on the calf of his left leg, though it is different to the one drawn by Ms Ilmer for police officers who interviewed her after the incident.

After his arrest, Ms Ilmer picked Mr Bonavia out of a 9-man line up and identified him as the jogger she had seen in the area prior to the incident taking place.

Selwyn Figueras, Mr Bonavia’s lawyer, put it to Ms Ilmer that she could not be certain that the jogger was the assailant.
“The defendant simply wasn’t there was he?” Mr Figueras asked.
“He was there,” Ms Ilmer replied, before stating on several occasions that she believed Mr Bonavia was both the jogger and the assailant.

The court also heard from several police officers involved in the arrest and the investigation into the incident.

They described how they had gathered evidence from the scene of the crime, including one shoe print similar to the trainers that Mr Bonavia was wearing at the time.

But the court also heard how it had been too dark to carry out a scene of crime investigation immediately after the incident, and how the area in question had not been secured or cordoned off before tests were carried out the following morning. That fact, Mr Figueras argued, could have rendered the evidence gathered there unreliable.

The case continues today.

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