BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
A man found guilty for stealing $140,000 from the Solomon Forest Association (SFA) has been sent to jail for three years.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea said the offending by the man had resulted in a loss of $140,000 to the association, this is a substantial amount of money.
“This is the kind of offending where the principles of general and specific deterrence are considered important. Any sentence must send the message clear that those who breach the trust of their employers must expect immediate custodial sentence to be imposed against them especially when the offending involves substantial amounts of money,” Iomea said.
This is the case of Patrick Soeasi Maelaua who was convicted of six counts of embezzlement in relation to the offences that were committed from September to December 2016; at that time of the offending he was the accounts clerk of the SFA.
Iomea said the man’s attitude is a breach of trust, he was the accountant or account clerk for SFA and because of the nature of his employment, he was entrusted with and had access to the SFA cheque book, he breached that trust.
“Second the offending was repeated, he had engaged in this behaviour not once but on six occasions, he should have re-think his action after had fraudulently embezzled the first cheque and crashed it but he did not.
“Thirdly although the association is made up of logging companies, the offending by the accused had resulted in a loss of $140,000 to the association, this is a substantial amount of money,” Iomea said.
“The matter was instituted in court in September 2019, it is not clear why the matter was not instituted earlier, the accused has also contributed to the delay because he failed to appear and a warrant of arrest was issued on October 18, 2019.
“The warrant was executed on March 6, 2020 and the accused was remanded until he was released on bail on April 3, 2020. Non-appearance of lawyer in carriage of the matter in court at time and lack of instructions provided also contribute to the delay.
“I do not think that delay should have an impact on the sentence, the need for deterrence, both specific and general I am of the view that the appropriate starting point for each of the six counts is four years imprisonment, for each of the counts I impose a sentence of four years imprisonment,” Iomea said.
Iomea, taking into account the mitigating factors put on behalf of the accused, deducted one year from the four years, thus given the total effective sentence of three years imprisonment ‘as insufficient for the purposes of punishment deterrence’.