The two men accused of stealing Social Welfare payouts — commonly called ‘Poor Relief’– were granted bail on Monday, two weeks after they were initially charged.
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias granted Learie Johnson, 62, of Lowmans Windward, and Derville Thomas, 42, of Bridgetown, Biabou EC$30,000 composite bail with one surety.
They were ordered to surrender local and international travel documents, report to police in Biabou on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and to seek the permission of the court to leave the country.
The magistrate, sitting at the Serious Offences Court, also ordered that stop notices be placed at ports of entry and exit, preventing the men from leaving the state without permission.
When the bail hearing came up again on Monday, the third time in two weeks, Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delplesche told the court that the Crown had no further objection to the men’s bail.
He said that the investigator, Detective Sergeant Malcolm Alexander, said that he was waiving his objection to bail.
Delplesche said that the investigator has informed the Crown that while his investigations are ongoing, he has “covered his bases” and the bail for the men should have no untoward impact on the ongoing probe.
He told the court that Alexander is “no fly-by-night detective”.
The prosecutor then outlined the conditions that he would like the court to impose and made it a point that the accused men should be made to surrender any travel documents in their possession.
“I learnt from my experience,” he said.
The prosecutor was making an apparent reference to a case where a Vincentian man who also has U.S. citizenship, surrendered his Vincentian passport but left St. Vincent on his U.S. passport after being granted bail.
Delplesche also told the court that the investigations into the Poor Relief case is ongoing and are touching on other matters not currently before the court.
“We are going high,” Delplesche said.
The men have been charged with three counts of theft in the sums of EC$750, EC$2,475, and EC$2,725, at Owia on Feb. 2, 2018.
They have also been slapped with some 36 charges relating to making and using false instruments, also on Feb. 2, at Owia.
The money allegedly stolen was reportedly disbursed by the state in the name of deceased persons who were yet to be removed from the Social Welfare register.
The men were not required to plead to the indictable charges.
They return to court on May 23, 2018.