Trial underway for accused robbers

Evidence suggests gold chains at the centre of the crime

Published on July 23, 2013

The trial for a man and a woman jointly accused of committing a robbery in the Cowan Heights area of St. John’s got underway Monday and is set to resume this morning at provincial court.

Amanda Murphy, 27, and Julian Matthew Squires, 25, were both in court Monday.  Both face two charges of robbery. It is alleged they responded to an ad on a classifieds website and agreed to meet the seller on Jan. 17, 2013. Police said at the time, that one suspect had a knife and the other a club-like object when the crime allegedly took place.

Based on evidence heard Monday afternoon from a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary constable, the goods that allegedly attracted the attention of the accused that night were gold chains. The constable read from a text message exchange between the victim and a cellphone number that the constable said Squires used.

The officer told the court that he sought clarification from Telus Mobility on the two names attached to the account and was told the first name listed was the person being billed for the cellphone, while the second name attached — Julian Squires — was its primary user.

Several messages were exchanged throughout the day of Jan. 17, according to what was read in court by the constable. The victim eventually agreed to meet the potential buyer outside a home on Frecker Drive and indicated the value of his product exceeded $2,500. In a final message to the victim, one of the accused allegedly said he could pull into the driveway. That text was sent at 9:45 p.m. according to the constable. He said the alleged robbery took place just before 10 p.m. that night.

Arnold Hussey, the lawyer representing Squires, asked the constable why he did not attempt to interview another person the victim identified from a series of photos as the man who robbed him that night.

The constable said he was confident at the time there were probable grounds to pursue Squires as a suspect. He added the victim told him he was not 100 per cent confident the person he previously identified in a photo was in fact the right man, giving his positive ID a six out of 10 based on his own confidence.

The officer went on to say that text messages and subscriber information are known to be good tools for robbery investigations. Asked about two other witnesses who were at the home when the alleged crime took place, the constable said he did speak with one of them by phone but said that person declined to be interviewed. The other witness could not be reached.

Kevin Baker, the defence lawyer representing Murphy, questioned whether police could be certain that a cellphone number it claimed was associated his client was, in fact, so. He went on to question whether the name linked to the account for the cellphone number was, in fact, Murphy’s next-of-kin or just someone with the same name. When Judge Pamela Goulding asked Crown prosecutor Danny Vavasour if he wanted to respond to the cross examinations by his counterparts, Vavasour asked the constable to discuss the address on the account of the cellphone associated with Murphy and the address for her next-of-kin. The officer confirmed both addresses were the same. The Crown is expected to call another police officer to the witness stand when the trial resumes Tuesday morning.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

This story has been edited from an earlier published version in order to correct inaccurate details.