BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
A 20-year-old man who stole on two separate occasions against different complainants at Kukum shopping area in east Honiara was sentenced to three years and five months yesterday by the court.
Carlos Gao was found guilty of two charges of simple larceny in relation to the incidents which occurred in April 2022.
On April 8, 2022 morning the complainant, Silas Feliz Qopu, and his bus driver, parked their bus in front of L&J Hardware shop at the Kukum seaside area.
The complainant got off the bus and went into that Hardware shop to purchase some building materials.
He returned to the bus and waited for the materials to be delivered to his vehicle.
He then decided to get out of the bus to help with the loading of the materials.
So he removed his brown bag from his neck containing $18,800, NPF cards and driver’s licence and placed it onto the passenger’s front seat, and went to assist with the loading of the materials.
It was when he was busy with loading the materials that Gao approached the bus and removed the basket with the money and other personal items.
The second incident occurred while Gao was on bail. The complainant on this case is a Bangladesh national and on May 27, 2022 he put his Black Redmi 115 lite mobile phone valued about $4,300 on the counter and was looking for his keys in the interior of the shop.
It was when he was busy looking for the keys that the defendant entered the shop, grabbed the phone and escaped.
Principal Magistrate Augustine Aulanga in sentencing Gao said enough is enough, the court must send a strong message that carries a tangible result of objectively discouraging and decreasing stealing and its related offences in Honiara and in the country.
“That is, if you steal large amount of money or valuable properties of others, you will go to jail for a long term, nothing more nothing less.
“The defendant herein had caused unhappiness and anger to the person who had lost his $17,000 and the owner of the mobile phone.
“He is a thief and a bad citizen. He had no respect to other people’s money and property.
“He should be ashamed of himself. Through his own criminality, he just recorded his name in the criminal records of the Royal Solomon Islands Police which could impede or jeopardize his prospects of employment in the light of the ongoing overseas employment opportunities such as the Labour Mobility or Seasonal Work scheme,” Aulanga said.
He said there is no need for a scientific study or anecdotal evidence to convince any Solomon Islander living in Honiara that stealing is now prevalent in and around the city.
“It is an everyday occurrence on the streets, shops, public and private spaces, and in the neighborhoods.
“It is my considered view that past sentences imposed by the courts are out of contemporaneity and outdated.
“They need to be adjusted and increased accordingly.
“I say this because they have failed to deter stealing related offences in the country. There is no fear at all by thieves to carry out stealing even in the face of the public.
“And for them, going to jail is simply like a holiday break.
“Those past sentences on theft are just a laughing stock or sheer judicial messages that do not have any real deterrent effect on likeminded offenders.”
Magistrate Aulanga adds, “since the defendant is a thief, he ought to be punished by the law despite he is a 20 year old young person.
“He decided to steal and should be prepared as well to face its consequence. It is recognised that youths who committed felonious crimes should not hide behind the cloak of youthfulness merely to escape punishment.”