Former police officer Menard Myles pleaded guilty in Summary Court in Grand Cayman last week to theft of groceries valued at $88.63 from Foster’s Food Fair in January 2011.
He initially pleaded not guilty and trial was to have taken place on 27 June.
Instead, he pleaded guilty and Crown Counsel Tricia Hutchinson explained how the offence was detected. She said Foster’s staff members observed a male going through the store and placing items in a hand cart. He went through a number of aisles and then was seen leaving the store without stopping at the check-out section.
The manager of the technology department was informed; he and officers responding to the shoplifting report viewed closed circuit television footage. Myles was the man seen leaving without checking out. Ms Hutchinson said contact was made with Myles and he was asked to return to the store.
When cautioned by police, he explained he had been on the phone and he checked his blood pressure – it was high, so he went home and cooked something to eat so he could take his medication.
Attorney Prathna Bodden elaborated on that explanation, saying Myles had not intended to take the items from the store without paying. He had cash with him when he went shopping, she said. While he was at the store, he got a call from his niece who told him that his sister was unwell. The news upset him and he left the store. His sister has since died, Ms Bodden noted.
She said Myles had already been punished by the embarrassment of having to come to court. Now 51, he was of exemplary character and had served Cayman as a police officer. In light of his age and character she asked that a conviction not be recorded. She said a conviction wold have a major impact on Myles, especially when it came to travelling with his family abroad.
Chief Magistrate Nova Hall said the attorney’s mitigation suggested that Myles went to shop, had money, became stressed and left without paying. Her question was – Once his blood pressure settled down, why didn’t he return to the store and pay for the groceries?
She agreed that Myles cooperated in the investigation and the value of the stolen goods was relatively low – $88.63. But her question remained: why did he not stake steps to rectify what he had done? As a former police officer he would know the effects of these thefts, including increased costs of doing business and costs passed on to the consumer.
She said she would dispose of the matter by imposing a fine of $300. However, she could not agree to not recording a conviction.