By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
A MAN sentenced to 15 years in prison for the knife-point robbery of a tourist in a hotel room roughly five years ago has had his legal bid to contest his sentence dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
Former Court of Appeal President Dame Anita Allen, and fellow Justices Jon Isaacs and Stella Crane-Scott, dismissed Stephen Anthony Greene’s appeal concerning his conviction and sentence for robbing Mark Kowalski in December 2012.
According to the written ruling, Mr Kowalski, his wife Victoria and his mother-in-law were on vacation in The Bahamas to celebrate Mr Kowalski’s 65th birthday.
On the morning of December 13, 2012 the three, who were staying at the Sheraton Hotel in Cable Beach, left their hotel room and went down to the beach. Mr Kowalski returned to the room, leaving his wife and mother-in-law on the beach.
Shortly after his return there was a knock at the door. As Mr Kowalski opened the door two men pushed it open and forced their way inside, tied him up, blindfolded him and searched his room.
During the search Mrs Kowalski returned to the room. A struggle ensued between the men and the Kowalskis but eventually Mrs Kowalski was able to break free, run to the balcony and raise the alarm. During the course of the struggle with the men, Mr Kowalski was stabbed.
The men ran away, leaving behind a plastic bag containing the Kowalskis’ camera and other items they had collected during their search of the room. According to the Crown’s case, an iPod Shuffle along with $3 to $5 they usually left in the room as a tip for the maid were not in the room after the men left.
Mr Kowalski was taken to Doctors Hospital and treated for three main injuries: a stab wound to the chest which caused his lung to collapse, a second wound to the left thigh and a third injury to his left ring finger which required partial amputation.
Greene, who was wearing an ankle bracelet at the time of the offence, was alleged to be one of the men who forcibly entered the hotel room.
He was arraigned on a voluntary bill of indictment (VBI) before Justice Ian Winder with being concerned with another in the commission of armed robbery (of the iPod and a $4 cash tip), attempted murder and causing grievous harm.
He elected to represent himself at the trial. On February 13, 2015, he was unanimously acquitted of the charge of attempted murder, but was convicted of armed robbery and causing grievous harm. Following his conviction and during the course of his sentencing hearing, he signalled his wish to plead guilty and to be sentenced at the same time on a pending indictment which charged him with housebreaking and robbery.
Following his guilty pleas, Greene was sentenced on both indictments to 15 years for the armed robbery and five years for causing grievous harm. He was further sentenced to 10 years each for both housebreaking and robbery. All four sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
Greene, who conducted his own appeal, filed a notice of appeal on June 15, 2015, setting out six grounds initially. At the hearing however, he abandoned the sixth ground and the appeal proceeded on the other five.
Greene’s grounds of appeal included, but were not limited to, that the presiding judge in his summing up in the armed robbery matter told jurors to bring a not guilty verdict on all counts due to the evidence but he was still convicted; that the judge allowed additional evidence during the case which was unfair; and that he was found guilty on armed robbery when the virtual complainant stated he wasn’t robbed.
All of Greene’s grounds of appeal ultimately failed and/or were dismissed by the appellate judges.
For that reason and those outlined in the ruling, the appellate judges dismissed Greene’s appeal against his conviction for causing grievous harm and affirmed his five-year sentence for that offence.
Regarding Greene’s appeal against his conviction for armed robbery of the Kowalskis’ iPod and the cash tip, the appellate judges said they are “satisfied” that the jury could have, on indictment, found Greene guilty of armed robbery of Mr Kowalski’s camera and “other property which had been appropriated by the armed intruders without his consent.”
Instead of allowing the appeal against his conviction for armed robbery of the iPod and the cash tip, however, the appellate judges, pursuant to Section 13A of the Court of Appeal (Amendment) Act, 2011, substituted for the jury’s verdict, a guilty verdict of armed robbery of Mr Kowalski’s camera and other items.
The appellate judges also ordered a 15-year sentence for armed robbery in substitution for the 15-year sentence passed at trial for armed robbery of the iPod and the cash tip.
And, for the “avoidance of doubt”, the appellate judges said Greene’s convictions and 10 year sentences concerning the housebreaking and robbery charges were both affirmed.
“All four sentences shall run concurrently and shall take effect from the date of incarceration at Her Majesty’s Prison,” the ruling said.