A Honduran national on a work permit was sentenced last week to six months imprisonment after pleading guilty to two burglary charges.
Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale said the sentence for Alejandro Pailla-Trochez would have been more except for his age, his full and frank admissions and the fact that the stolen goods were recovered.
She further stated that the sentence was wholly and entirely exceptional, since the usual tariff for residential burglaries is 18 months.
That was the term she had in mind before hearing mitigation from Defence Attorney John Furniss.
According to a summary of facts on file, the burglaries occurred on 21 November. The defendant had visited a friend and then asked if he could stay overnight. The friend’s room was small, but he was allowed to sleep on the floor.
The next morning the friend left for work. When he returned home in the afternoon, he found his room had been broken into. The next door neighbour had also been broken into.
The complainants reported their suspicions and Trochez was spoken to by officers. He admitted taking two watches, valued at $209.50.
Residential burglary is serious enough, the magistrate said. But it was a gross breach of trust that he would burgle the premises of someone who had assisted him when he was in need.
Mr. Furniss explained that Trochez, 19, was here on a work permit as a gardener. He was hired by someone who then had no work for him.
On the day of the offences, Trochez was hungry and looking for some quarters to get food, the attorney said.
The magistrate repeated what she has said in several work permit cases – ‘If you cannot afford to maintain employees, you should not be allowed to have them.’
Mr. Furniss asked whether the state should have the expense of keeping Trochez here and then just deport him when he finished his sentence.
The magistrate said Trochez deserved a custodial sentence of substantial length. But against the aggravating features of the burglaries she considered the mitigation.
There was nothing to say he was of previous bad character; in fact, to get a work permit he had to prove he was of good character.
Mr. Furniss had urged that Trochez was hungry and unable to care for himself because the employer failed to provide sufficient work or sufficient funds.
The magistrate said she had also been reminded of the cost to the country. In all the circumstances, six months was an appropriate sentence, since Trochez would not be remaining in this jurisdiction.