Magistrate cites unusual timing of charges
Errolyn Thompson will spend the next year wearing an electronic monitor, observing a 24-hour curfew except for work and church, and saving some of the $40,814.30 she must pay back after stealing from her employer.
Magistrate Valdis Foldats sentenced her earlier this month to 18 months imprisonment, but suspended that term for two years, during which time she will be under a supervision order. The magistrate also directed that she perform 160 hours of community service.
Mr. Foldats made it clear that, apart from work, church and community service, she was to have no other freedom: no evening excursions, no holidays, no remission earned as if she were in prison, he said.
Thompson, now 29, pleaded guilty to stealing from the condominium complex where she worked as office assistant, registering guests and settling accounts. This was her second conviction for theft from an employer.
“Had she been dealt with while in custody for the first offence, a sentence of two years consecutive would have been appropriate,” the magistrate said.
He set out the timing of events in this case. Thompson was already in prison, serving 12 months for theft from a previous employer, when her next employer filed a complaint in January 2010.
In May that year, Thompson was interviewed and confessed. That confession gave authorities time to charge her before her release, the magistrate said.
In July, the Legal Department authorised charges against her.
In mid-September 2010, Thompson completed her sentence and was released from custody.
On 29 September, the charges against her were registered.
Crown counsel Michael Snape was unable to obtain a satisfactory explanation for the delay, although he did report that the investigating officer has since left the jurisdiction.
Once the charges were authorised by the Legal Department, they should have been registered within a day or two, the magistrate noted. The investigating officer had inquired about Thompson’s release date, but for whatever reason he did not register the charges until after her release from prison.
Now, Thompson faced re-incarceration two and a half years after her release, and three and a half years after her offending behaviour. “That is not the timely justice that society is entitled to,” the magistrate declared.
He listed the factors to be considered in breach of trust cases as they were brought to his attention by Mr. Snape and defence attorney Prathna Bodden.
Thompson was a wage-earning employee, not someone at the highest level of trust. She wrote a letter of apology, which the court accepted as genuine. She received counselling for six months while in custody. Since her release, she obtained employment and has not committed further offences. She had repaid $2,889.26 of the money she stole.
The magistrate said he was allowing full credit for Thompson’s guilty plea. “Offenders must be encouraged to accept responsibility for their actions,” he said.
On the other hand, the thefts were committed over a period of time, and while she was on bail for the first employee theft. The most aggravating feature was that Thompson stole from her second employer to pay back the first employer. The magistrate described this behaviour as callous, cynical and outrageous.
He agreed that imprisonment is the correct sentence for breach of trust offences unless the amount stolen is small or there are exceptional circumstances. In this case, he indicated, the main issue for him was the admitted delay between the prosecution’s ruling on the file and the registering of the charges.