Suspended sentence for bank theft

Teller was ‘mere functionary’

Justice Howard Cooke sentenced a
former bank teller to two years imprisonment for theft of US$2,000, but suspended
that term for two years after being told that Samantha Suberan was “a mere functionary”.

Justice Cooke imposed the sentence
on Friday, dealing with the matter immediately after another case of theft by a
bank employee. In that instance, he handed down a term of probation and a
community service order (Caymanian Compass, 27 April).

The judge accepted the usual tariff
of immediate imprisonment for breach of trust offences as explained by Crown Counsel
Kirsty-Ann Gunn, but said the state of that defendant’s health amounted to an exceptional
circumstance as to why she should not go to prison.

After hearing details of Suberan’s
offence, he addressed Defence Attorney John Furniss: “Tell me why I mustn’t
send her to prison.”

“She was a mere functionary,” Mr. Furniss replied. He pointed out that
the original guideline case, Barrick in the UK in 1985, was for the professional
person and then widened to anyone in a position of trust.

He suggested that Suberan was not
in a position of trust. Mrs. Gunn countered that the defendant had handled
money on behalf of her employer.

Mr. Furniss emphasised that Suberan
was not in the same degree of trust as the previous offender. She had worked at
the bank only a couple months and was not very good. The bank had placed her on
a particular type of supervision.

“She was 17, going on 18 when the
offence took place,” Mr. Furniss pointed out. Now she is 20 and has a child six
months old with whom the bonding process is still developing.

Suberan pleaded not guilty in November
to four sets of theft and false accounting charges relating to incidents in
November 2008.

She later admitted the largest
amount, US$2,000, and the Crown was content to let the other charges lie on

Mrs. Gunn said Suberan was employed
at Scotiabank as a teller/cashier, receiving payments and deposits from
customers. The offence occurred after a customer paid US$2,000 for payment on
her MasterCard account. The transaction
was initially processed and credited into the system.

After the customer left, Suberan
recalled the transaction and it was
withdrawn from the system. The money was not returned to the customer. “The
defendant stole it,” Mrs. Gunn concluded. “When the theft was discovered she
denied taking the money, but accepted doing the transaction.”

Mr. Furniss agreed that Suberan
received the money and gave the receipt. When her dealings were checked at the
end of the day, the money was missing. The attorney said it was used to cover
everyday expenses.

He said his client had given him
CI$1,680 to pay back to the bank.

Justice Cooke told Suberan if she
offended in the next two years she would have to serve a sentence for this
offence plus any term handed down for the new conviction.