Owner gives victim impact statement
Two men were fined earlier this month after pleading guilty to theft from their workplace, but before Chief Magistrate Nova Hall sentenced Christopher Campbell and Leroy Jack, she heard from the employer.
She did so, she said, because when a committee met on alternative sentencing, one of the members had talked about how important it is for the victim of a crime to say what the impact has been. Saying what is on one’s mind in front of the offender is part of the healing processing, she indicated.
The two men had been employed by KP Heavy Equipment, which sells aggregate. They were charged with stealing 23 yards of crusher run valued at $918.75, but pleaded guilty on the basis that Campbell was responsible for 15 yards. Jack pleaded on the basis of being responsible for 12.5 yards; he admitted being part of another theft involving 23 yards of beach sand valued at $1,035.
Crown Counsel Nicole Petit presented the facts. She said Jack used a dumper to load material onto a truck driven by a third man, Devon Hewitt. The material was delivered to an address in Savannah last July without permission of the owner. Jack also loaded a truck driven by Campbell and that material was delivered to an individual, also without permission of the owner.
The matter came to the attention of the company owners and police were called. All three men were arrested and interviewed. They first came to court on 13 December, when Hewitt said he wished to plead guilty. He was fined $300 a few days later, while Campbell and Jack initially pleaded not guilty but later changed their pleas.
Ms Petit said it was her duty to inform victims that they can make an impact statement and in this case the complainant did wish to because there had been a long-term relationship with the employees that she felt betrayed about.
Bernadette Bodden, who owns KP Heavy Equipment with her husband, told the court they are both Seventh-Day Adventists. Campbell is SDA also and Jack is not. She said she and her husband had trusted the men more than any other employee. “We are so hurt that this would occur … because our employees are our family,” she said.
When the economic downturn started, she never laid anyone off, Mrs. Bodden said. “I depleted my savings to keep them and this is the kind of payback I get.”
She told the court the thefts had cast a shadow over all the other 38 employees, dividing them by nationality – Caymanians, Jamaicans and Filipinos.
Ms Petit closed the Crown’s presentation by noting that the thefts were breaches of trust, with well-established sentencing guidelines.
Attorney Lloyd Samson spoke for Jack, pointing out that sentencing tariffs are guidelines and there were precedents for non-custodial sentences. “You could not be criticised for shirking your public duty if you decide that custody – although sought – is not what the justice of the situation requires,” he told the magistrate.
He said Jack had been out of work since the incidents and had to rely on friends for survival. Jack was remorseful and contrite. He had been employed for seven years and contributed his labour to the success of the company. He had five children and a wife who were all dependent on him and he would not now be able to assist them from this jurisdiction.
“I urge you to dispose of this matter in a manner by which he will retain his liberty and go home, rather than be retained by the state for some reason that might be extraneous to the case,” he concluded after arguing that the Alternative Sentencing Law is not about vengeance and retribution.
Attorney Morris Garcia spoke for Campbell and adopted Mr. Samson’s submissions. He said neither attorney wished to give the impression that this was not a serious matter. He pointed out that even though the guilty pleas were belated, they had still saved the court considerable time.
Mr. Garcia advised the court that Campbell, 38, was married and had one child. He had not worked since the incident and it was not likely he would have the opportunity, at least in Cayman.
In passing sentence, the magistrate said theft is a serious offence, particularly from an employer. Neither man had any previous conviction, she noted, but the theft were something that had to have been planned; the men had not just snatched something that was lying around.
For their joint theft she fined Campbell $600 or 60 days in lieu of payment and Jack $400 or 40 days. Jack was fined a further $750 or 60 days for theft of the beach sand with Hewitt. The magistrate ordered the fines to be paid that day.