Off the hook

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MP David Tome acquitted of corruption charges

BY JENNIFER KUSAPA

THE Member of Parliament for Baegu/Asifola David Tome has been acquitted by the Magistrate Court on Thursday of the charges against him.

David Tome was facing one count of conversion in relation to incidents in 2011 where he allegedly converted $80,000 which had been meant for Reforestation and Forest Plantation Development.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea in his decision said the question for the court to consider is whether the accused honestly mistook the $80,000 funding as the direct allocation to each of the 50 constituency.

Based on the evidence from the Ministry of Forest and Research that argument by the accused cannot be disregarded, the effect is that there is no evidence given by the crown to prove that the accused knew that the intended beneficiary was GREDC.

An inference that is open is that the accused had an honest belief that the $80,000 was a direct allocation to each constituency.

“I am not satisfied on the evidence that the accused had any fraudulent intent to prejudice the right of the intended beneficiary which GREDC or any other constituent of Baegu/Asifola,” Magistrate Iomea said.

He said the act of conversion alleged by the crown was the signing of the cheques for the withdrawal on 83 occasions between September 9, 2011 and October 24, 2011.

Iomea said after assessing all evidence and records put before the court the funding which is the subject of the charge was mingled and became mixed money and cannot be identified.

“I am not satisfied that the evidence of the two witnesses in this regard are credible and reliable, that evidence cannot be relied on to draw any inference adverse to the accused.

“I am satisfied that the crown has failed to prove the charge against the accused and accordingly he is acquitted,” Iomea said.

Tome denied the charge and a trial was conducted on his case in which the prosecution called nine witnesses and tendered a total of 22 exhibits.

Island Sun understands Tome’s supporters celebrated their MP’s win at the Tandai Seafront Hotel last night.

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