FOUR men accused of participating in the $4 million Westpac Bank robbery on Monday yesterday appeared in court and were remanded.
Dudley Baemalea, Patteson Amos Otokwai, Jonathan Wanefiolo and Stanley Waneakwasia appeared before a pack courtroom, with each facing one count of robbery.
A fifth person, whom police described as the prime suspect, is still at large.
The men were accused of the robbing about $4 million after chopping off a security guard’s wrist between 10 am and 11 am on Monday.
They then allegedly took off with the money in a car and headed off in the westerly direction at very high speed.
Police and the public chased the car which resulted in it crashing at Kakabona.
It was alleged that after overturning, five men came out from the car with knives and threatened anyone that goes closer to them.
They were chased by Kakabona residents when police told them that the five men were suspected robbers.
Police recovered $3.7 million of the stolen cash, but said $295,000 were still missing.
Police arrested three of the men at Kakabona while the fourth was arrested at his home at Burns Creek the next day.
The four men voluntarily admitted their involvement in the incident when police interviewed them.
Court documents showed five persons came in a car and stopped in front of the Westpac Bank behind a Security vehicle.
The security guards for Westpac are from a private security firm, Alert Protective Service.
The senseless attack occurred in front of many onlookers who witnessed the security officers being attacked, one of which had his wrist chopped off completely.
The two security officers were carry suitcases from the bank to their vehicle by wheeling them through the main door.
Court documents showed the first security guard Harry Lilimae was attacked when he was approaching their vehicle with the first box.
It was alleged one of the robbers approached him with a knife to attack him and he fell onto the cash box and rolled helplessly onto the main road.
Police further alleged that as Lilimae was attacked, the second security Michael Maelea walked out with another box when another robber jumped out from the flowers in front of the bank.
The fifth suspect known as Gab Ala at this stage allegedly jumped out with a long bush knife aiming to chop Mr Maelea’s head but got his wrist cut off when he tried to avoid the knife.
Police alleged that Mr Maelea saw the knife coming towards his head and tried to defend it with his left hand while his right hand still held on to the cash box.
It was then that his left wrist was taken out completely and fell off him.
Police alleged it was sheer luck that only his wrist was chopped off, as it could have been his head.
Despite the injury, police said his right arm never let go of the cash box, prompting the attacker to hack him with the knife on the elbow.
Mr Maelea fell on the ground pleading for help.
Police alleged the robbers, some of whom wore masks, then took off in a waiting vehicle.
As a result of the brutal attack, the two security officers were hospitalised.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN