Senior Magistrate Colin John has suggested that the prosecution handles the case in which a 21-year-old man stole EC$176,200 in cash from his mother in such a way that he does not end up with a criminal record.
On Monday, the man, Jemor Jack, 21, of Arnos Vale, appeared at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, where he pleaded guilty to three counts of theft, amounting to EC$176,200.
The money was stolen from the account of Rocita Jack, 51, of Park Hill, and was part of compensation she received after an accident on a cruise ship affected her performance of her duties.
Jack stole EC$48,200 between July 1 and Aug. 1, EC$38,000 between Aug. 1 and 31, and EC$90,000 between Sept. 1 and 30.
According to the facts, presented by Police Constable 196 Constantine, Ms Jack was a sailor but quit sailing after she got into an accident at work which hampered her performance of her duties.
She opened an account at Republic Bank, via which she received her final benefits from the company.
Ms Jack was given an ATM card and she signed up for online banking. She had the password for her account on a piece of paper in one of her handbags at home.
The mother of five was living with two of her five children, including the defendant, at the time when he stole the money.
The court heard that on Oct. 7, Ms Jack went to the ATM and withdrew EC$300 from her account. She collected the receipt and placed it in her bag without checking it.
On Oct. 8, about 6 p.m. she was searching through some documents and found the receipt.
She read it and realised that a large amount of her money was missing.
As a result, on Oct. 9, Ms Jack went to the bank to inquire and was informed that EC$17,200 was transferred from the account between July 2 and Sept. 21.
Ms Jack had no knowledge of those transactions and reported the matter to the Criminal Investigations Department, in Kingstown.
Detective Corporal 540 Sam conducted an investigation, during which he obtained the assistance of the Financial Intelligence Unit as well as certain documents.
The investigation led to the defendant, who was taken into police custody.
He gave a statement on Nov. 30, 2023 admitting to the offence.
Mr. Jack told the investigator that he had used the money to buy motor vehicle PS682, a minivan.
The vehicle was taken into police custody as part of the investigation.
On Dec. 1, about 1:39 p.m., police conducted an electronic interview with Mr. Jack, during which he gave his account of the matter.
The defendant told the court that he accepted the facts as read by the prosecution.
The senior magistrate then inquired about whether Ms Jack was present and invited her to take the stand.
The virtual complainant told the court that she did not know what her son had bought with the money that he stole from her.
“If he can work the van and try to get back my money. I consider that he has a child and all I want back is my money,” she told the court.
The defendant said that he had already told his mother that he would pass over the van to her, adding that he would work and pay her back.
At this point, the senior magistrate told Mr. Jack that while the court cannot force an apology, the first thing he should do is to apologise to his mother for his action.
Defendant — I already told her I will pass over the van to her and work and pay her back.
Mr. Jack, looking upwards, rather than across the room at his mother, said, “Mommy, I am sorry for what I have done. I wasn’t thinking straight at the time.”
The defendant told the court that he quit George Stephens Secondary School in Form 4 and was working as a security guard, before buying the van with the money he stole from his mother.
“If you had that intention, why didn’t you speak to your mother about assisting you?” John asked the defendant.
Mr. Jack again said he “wasn’t thinking straight”.
His mother told the court:
“I don’t want to have the van in my hand working. I will like if something can change and I can be the owner of it. I don’t want to settle it like that.”
The senior magistrate told the virtual complainant that her son would have to “sign over” the van to her.
“He can’t have something he does not really deserve. It is not his van,” John told the virtual complainant, who said that she does not like “drama” and that it was the first time that she was interacting with the court.
The woman said she had raised five children without a father.
“I don’t think this is something he should have done me as his mother. And if he can do me that, he can do somebody out there even worse,” she told the court.
“I didn’t have to do it because this is about jail work,” the mother said about her decision to ask that her son not be imprisoned.
“I could have let him go down and teach him a lesson,” she said, adding that she hopes that her son would not commit a similar act against other people.
Ms Jack told the court that she has always warned her children not to watch what other people have.
The senior magistrate told the woman that he was in full agreement with her.
He then said that he knows the ramification if Jack gets a conviction, adding that it would be even more difficult for him to get a job.
“While I have to do justice, I have to administer some mercy as well,” said John, a retired commissioner of police in August and who was presiding over his court for the first time since being sworn in on Friday.
“If the court can assist in certain areas, it should,” the senior magistrate further said and suggested that the court enters a not guilty plea and the parties deal with the issue and Jack does not end up with a criminal conviction.
“So, in the future, if he has to get a police record, this issue with his mother will not impede him although he deserves it,” the senior magistrate said.
He said people deserve second chances, adding that Jack cannot then say that he did not get a second chance.
“I don’t know what the prosecution feels about it,” John said.
The prosecutor, acting Corporal of Police Corlene Samuel, responded, “Point taken; because it is a mother and son.”
The senior magistrate noted that the sum of money involved was large and the charge significant.
The prosecutor asked that the matter be adjourned to a later date and then dealt with then.
The senior magistrate said he did not want to prolong the matter and set Friday for the next hearing.
The prosecution did not object to bail and the magistrate granted bail in the sum of EC$2,000 with one surety.
The magistrate told the defendant that his mother had worked hard, suffered injuries and was compensated.
He told him he could not just go into her account, “dip your hand in there and take out what you want to take out”.
In setting the bail amount, the magistrate noted that the sum stolen was “sizeable” but also spoke of “the way in which the matter is going”.
The prosecutor told the magistrate that she understood where he was coming from.
“I am trying not to speak because of certain things that might go out… Sometimes, there are certain things that you don’t want to go out as being said,” Samuel said, apparently referring to the presence of the media in the court.
“I understand where you are coming from. Maybe we can deal with it that way.”
The magistrate asked the defendant if he had money in his account.
Mr. Jack said he was not sure because he did not have access to it.
The magistrate asked the prosecutor to gather the pertinent information as regards the defendant’s assets.