Found guilty on two charges
Immigration Officer Helen
Clarke-Williams was found guilty last week of employing a person without a work
permit and obstructing an immigration officer in his duty. She had been trading
as Sham-Racq Beauty Salon and Barber Shop on Shedden Road.
A man described in court as Ms
Clarke-Williams’ fiancé, Chully Chum Chambers, was found guilty of working as a
barber without a permit and making a false statement to an immigration officer.
Chief Magistrate Margaret
Ramsay-Hale imposed fines totalling $1,000 for each defendant and ordered each
to pay costs of $400.
Howard Hamilton QC, speaking in
mitigation, said the guilty verdict was a “death knell” for Ms Clarke-Williams,
referring to the fact that she would lose her job after 25 years with the
“No punishment this court can
impose can be worse than that,” he said, noting that her life had been one of
dedication to her job.
Mr. Hamilton acknowledged that Mr.
Chambers’ offence was serious, but on the court’s finding, it went together
with Ms Clarke-Williams’ offence. He asked the magistrate to be compassionate
towards both defendants.
“What was looming was their chance
for happiness,” he said.
The defence acknowledged that Mr.
Chambers was often in the shop, but pointed out that he was there as Ms
Clarke-Williams’ “eyes and ears” because she suspected her employees were
stealing from her.
The obstruction occurred on 5 August,
2008, when an immigration officer entered the shop and took up a receipt book
that recorded payments for services. Ms Clarke-Williams took the book from the
officer and tore out a page.
Mr. Hamilton argued this was not
obstruction because the page was not destroyed and she never had the intention
to obstruct. During trial, Ms Clarke-Williams had said she was concerned
because documents got lost in the immigration department. She also said she did
not want the office knowing her business and that she would make a copy of the
information and take it in.
The magistrate said obstruction
occurs when a person makes it more difficult for an officer to carry out his
duties. The motive is irrelevant.
In passing sentence, the magistrate
pointed out that an immigration officer is sworn to uphold the law, so this
offence was a breach of trust. She took into account the defendants’ personal
relationship and said she would not consider the offending as commercial.
The magistrate agreed with Mr.
Hamilton that the greatest punishment was Ms Clarke-Williams’ loss of good
character among her colleagues and in the wider community, along with final
loss of her job.
When Ms Clarke-Williams first
appeared in court in February 2009, she was on suspension with full pay.