Thefts from employer cost jobs

Two men who admitted stealing goods from their employer have not been able to work since, attorneys told Magistrate Nova Hall last Monday.

Alton R. Ellis and Colin Clive Laylor, both of whom were on work permits, pleaded guilty to thefts from Kirk Home Centre in 2005.

Laylor, 45, had been with the store for seven years. Ellis, 32 started working at Kirk in December 2004.

After hearing the facts and mitigation, Magistrate Nova Hall fined Laylor $1,400 or six months in lieu of payment. Ellis was fined $700 or three months in lieu. Each man was also ordered to pay $150 in costs or serve 14 days in the alternative.

Crown Counsel Tanya Lobban said a woman connected with the business was parking her car at the premises when she observed Ellis walking away from Laylor’s vehicle. She then observed property in the vehicle covered with a black sheet.

The woman requested assistance from a security guard and together they were allowed to examine the items in the vehicle. The found two king-size bed sets and a pressure cooker.

Further investigation led to a search of Laylor’s residence. Property with a total value of $2,500 was recovered. The items were photographed and returned to their owner.

Ellis also consented to a search of his premises, but led searchers to a residence that was not his address. He was remanded in custody and later the correct address was searched. Property with a total value of $716.40 was recovered.

Defence Attorney Neville Levy spoke for Laylor. He said his client could not understand how he got himself into this position. After Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, certain things in the store were not saleable and employees were told they could take things that were of no use to the store.

The magistrate said she had seen the photographs of items. ‘They look pretty saleable to me,’ she said.

Mr. Levy said Laylor admitted taking things he had no right to. He wanted to send them home to his family in Jamaica.

This defendant was forthright to police and entered his guilty plea in January 2006. He had been here a number of months not working because Ellis had initially pleaded not guilty and a trial had to be scheduled.

Attorney John Furniss said it was correct that Ellis denied the charge. He did so on the basis that they had permission to take things that had been damaged. Once the photographs were brought to court, Ellis acknowledged that the items were outside the scope of damaged goods. Many were still in their original packaging.

The company cancelled Ellis’ work permit after the theft was discovered. He applied for other jobs but all the applications were deferred pending the outcome of this case. His fiancée had been supporting him meanwhile, Mr. Furniss told the court.

Now that a conviction has been recorded against Ellis, chances of obtaining a work permit were remote, the attorney pointed out.

The magistrate said that the defendants were not eligible for a sentence of community service because of their immigration status. If they were not working, they would have no funds to pay a fine. She asked what the alternative was.

Mr. Furniss said Ellis’ fiancée would assist him. He asked that the state not have to bear the burden of keeping Ellis.

Mr. Levy said Laylor could not pay a fine because he was not working and the situation had caused much distress to his family.

In passing sentence the magistrate said the courts take a dim view of theft from employers. In this case, the offences had not been committed because of need. She took into account the fact that items had been restored to their owner.

She agreed that Laylor should get credit for his early guilty plea, but she also considered the larger quantity of items he stole.

She agreed to give both defendants time to pay if they could get a local surety. Otherwise, they would serve the time in lieu.