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Armed bandits rob store $5m in jewelry
--- 2 workers hospitalized after beating

by Michel Moses
Two persons have been hospitalized after they were severely beaten by three armed bandits who invaded their workplace, Topaz Jewellery Establishment, at 114-115 Plantation Pearl, East Bank Demerara, early yesterday.

Manager Daramaju Bridgemohan points to the broken and empty safe in the Topaz Jewellery Establishment workshop.

The bandits, all masked, also robbed the establishment of over $5 million in diamonds, precious and non-precious stones, gold and silver jewels.

    

It was the third robbery of the store.

    

Armed with a gun, a knife and a chopper, the bandits gained entry to the building around 2:30 hours yesterday, by first cutting parts of a fence to the premises. They then broke a window to the eastern side of the building with a crow bar. That window led to the bedroom in which Mahendra Bridgemohan, 23, and his 22-year-old wife, Rohini Ishmael, slept.

After waking them at gunpoint, the bandits tortured, beat, chopped and burnt the still-shocked employees in an ordeal the victims estimate lasted one hour.

According to the manager of Topaz Jewellery Establishment, Dharamraj Bridgemohan, the three bandits took them downstairs to the workshop. There, they broke the door to the workshop and, after demanding and then beating Mahendra and his wife until they revealed the combination to the safe, opened and began emptying the safe of its contents.

Their booty included 10 pairs of 18-karat gold earrings, 25 pairs of silver earrings, 10 pairs of diamond stud earrings, one 14-karat diamond necklace, one 12-karat necklace, and what Bridgemohan said was “a substantial amount” of raw gold, silver, diamonds and precious and non precious stones.

The couple had moved into the house only about a month ago.

Ishmael was chopped on the hand and neck while Bridgemohan was burnt on his tongue, mouth and hands with a torch.

The bandits then tied the men and the woman up with a telephone chord and, in the ample time they had, broke open the door to the fire-proof safe using several tools from the shop, including a large chisel, which was taken away by the police.

The bandits also ransacked the workshop in the process.

Bridgemohan said that his brother underwent brain surgery late last year and is on medication.

The younger Bridgemohan managed to free himself and his wife and telephoned the police from a nearby phone after the bandits left. They punctured his bicycle tires.

When Chronicle visited the robbery scene yesterday, blood was evident on the pillow in the couple’s bedroom where the men beat the duo before taking them down to the workshop to access the safe.

The victims were the only occupants of the house at the time.

Topaz Jewellery Establishment is owned by Dominique Gaskin, who resides in England.

Gaskin learnt of the robbery via telephone early yesterday morning and has decided to close down the business permanently.

Bridgemohan reflected that on the first robbery he was about to open the gate of the business when bandits struck him on the head and made off with his cellular phone, $25,000 in cash, his passport and other documents. They were unable to enter the premises on that occasion.

The premises were unoccupied at the time of the second robbery, during which bandits cut the fence, fed the three Doberman dogs something to eat and gained access to the building by breaking a window located on the northern side of the house. They carted off over $1.3 million in office equipment and household articles, including the computers, fax machine, telephones, goldsmith tools and household appliances.

Up to date the three Doberman dogs remain quiet and sleepy.

Topaz Jewellery Establishment has been operating from its East Bank Demerara location for some eight years now.

It employed four persons.

It is believed that the same three bandits also staged the other two attacks on the residence.

The Police were continuing investigations into the robbery up to late last night.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003