Ex-bank manager’s fresh bail plea fails

National, Normal

BEING on the BSP payroll while behind bars was one of the factors that denied former Bank South Pacific  Kerema branch manager. Noah Karo’s chances of being awarded bail by the Supreme Court in Waigani yesterday.
The court dismissed Karo’s second bail application, saying that if he was allowed bail and returned to work at BSP, he would be interacting with colleagues, which was not in the best interest of justice.
“In our view, this makes the situation less favourable for the applicant, because it opens the potential for interference with colleagues and other staff of BSP bank by the applicant,” Justice Salatiel Lenalia said yesterday while handing down the decision on behalf of the three-judge bench comprising Justices Colin Makail, Joseph Yagi and himself.
“While we accept that the police investigations have been completed in respect of the applicant’s case, we are not persuaded that the threat against witnesses or potential witnesses for the State is abated.
“In fact, we note that the applicant (Karo) is still on the payroll of the BSP Bank and if released on bail, we believe that he will return straight to work ” which would interfere with court proceedings and intended witnesses for the State.
Karo’s lawyer Gregory Emilio, argued before the court that there were “changed circumstances” from the previous bail application in the National Court.
Mr Emilio said the changed circumstances were that Karo would be self-sufficient because he was still employed.
Other supporting affidavits provided from his family family and community leaders claimed that he was a “respectable” and “Christian” law-abiding citizen.
He also argued that the fact that he was still on the BSP payroll showed that the bank from which he allegedly robbed “still considered him innocent” of the alleged crime.
However, the Supreme Court rejected the arguments.
Justice Lenalia said the proper hearing  on the matter of the charges against the 50-year-old father of five from Hula village in the Rigo district,   Central province, had not begun yet.
The bench upheld the four reasons for the National Court’s refusal of bail, which were:  
* Substantial amount of money stolen had not been recovered;
* Firearms involved had not been recovered;
* The gang which the applicant is alleged to have belonged to was allegedly responsible for a number of bank robberies; and
* Other accomplices have been remanded in custody.