Teen bank teller jailed for theft

Dave Osbourne McLaughlin, 18, was sentenced last week to four months imprisonment after pleading guilty to theft of $2,000 at the bank where he worked.

The theft occurred last August, when McLaughlin was still 17.

Senior Crown Counsel Trevor Ward said the theft was from a customer’s account. The account holder went to the Royal Bank of Canada branch at Queen’s Court, where he withdrew US$2,000 on Friday, 8 August. McLaughlin was the teller who attended him.

On Saturday, the man queried his account online and found that an additional $2,000 had been taken from the account, but it was in CI dollars.

He queried the bank on Monday and it appeared that two transactions had been posted simultaneously: one the withdrawal; the other a direct transfer from his account to McLaughlin’s personal account.

A senior banking officer questioned McLaughlin. She also found there had been five ATM withdrawals over the weekend from his account, totalling $2,150.

McLaughlin said he had posted the transaction in error, but denied doing the ATM withdrawals. The bank officer did not believe him and a review of video tape footage showed him doing five withdrawals. He repaid the money.

The matter was reported to police and McLaughlin was interviewed in the presence of his parents. He admitted transferring the funds from the customer’s account to his own. He apologised.

Mr. Ward said it was fair to classify this theft as a breach of trust case. The Court of Appeal has said immediate imprisonment is the appropriate sentence, even for a first offence, unless there were exceptional circumstances.

McLaughlin’s youth and previous good character were not exceptional circumstances.

Mr. Ward also cited several recent cases to indicate lengths of sentences.

Magistrate Grace Donalds asked McLaughlin if he had anything to say. He replied, ‘I was irresponsible. I have learned from my mistake.’ He added that he wanted to be a better citizen.

In passing sentence, the magistrate said he had pleaded guilty to a breach of trust offence at a commercial bank. His plea came at the first court mention and he had repaid the money in full.

Despite the recommendation of a pre-sentence report from the Department of Community Rehabilitation, it was clear that imprisonment was inevitable except in exceptional circumstances or where the amount of money was small. Neither of these applied to McLaughlin’s case.

Taking into account all of these factors, she sentenced him to four months and advised him of his right to appeal.

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