BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
PRINCIPAL Magistrate Augustine Aulanga has reiterated taking another person’s property without consent is a crime and it will always have punitive consequences.
He made the statements when sentencing a 17-year-old at the Honiara Magistrate Court earlier this week.
The 17-year-old female juvenile was charged with two charges of simply larceny contrary to section 261(1) of the Penal Code.
The first charge relates to the theft of 61,288 Philippine currency known as “peso”, and the complainant is the grandmother of the accused.
Whilst the second charge relates to the theft of an external hard drive, a portable charger and a Wi-Fi modem. She committed this offence by cutting the suitcase of the complainant and then removed the stolen items. This occurred on December 8, 2019 and at the same Townground area in Honiara. All the stolen items have already been retrieved and recovered.
Aulanga said in his sentence the accused is a young person of 17 years old and therefore, a juvenile. The law of Solomon Islands and even abroad have always strive to ensure that a juvenile be treated differently and leniently by the court during sentencing, compared to an adult offender.
“This is because a juvenile does not fully understand the consequence that will follow when committing an offence. This is attributed to the fact that a juvenile is immature and is prone of making mistakes compared to an adult or matured person,” Aulanga said.
However, the offender should know that stealing is a crime. It is the taking of another person’s property without consent. Since it is a crime, it will always have punitive consequences. Therefore, as a 15 year old girl at the time of the offending, common sense should tell her to keep her fingers off from other people’s personal items.
“I understand she is related to the complainants so I don’t see any reason why she should have asked them first before taking their properties,” Aulanga said.
He also said since the two charges do not involve violent offending, he considers rehabilitation as the paramount consideration for the sentence for the accused.
Aulanga also said the situation of Solomon Islands is always prone to juvenile recidivism or the risk of a juvenile returning into the bad or vicious cycle of reoffending because of the lack of government supervisory or support programs to monitor the behavior of a juvenile offender following release from imprisonment.
Facilitating rehabilitative sentencing mechanisms and at the same time, ensuring a juvenile is held accountable for the crime committed, is the appropriate and preferred conventional approach in dealing with a juvenile offender, Aulanga said.
Therefore, Aulanga sentenced the accused on the first count, one year imprisonment but was substituted with a compensation order for her to pay $9,840 (SBD), an amount equivalent to 61,288 pesos, to the complainant before or by 31st July 2021. Breach of which, the offender will be arrested and brought to court to serve the 1 year term with immediate effect.
Whilst for the second charge that involves the theft of the external hard drive, the portable charger and the Wi-Fi modern, the court imposes six months but fully suspended for 12 months on the condition that she is to be of good behavior and will not commit any new offence during this operational period, the reason for imposing this suspended term is that all the stolen items had been recovered.