A Grand Court trial ended unexpectedly on Friday when defendant Antonio Paolini entered a guilty plea to a theft charge.
Mr. Paolini, a former real estate broker, admitted to stealing $43,000 from a named person some time between Aug. 19 and Nov. 20, 2014.
The jury had heard evidence over three days last week. Crown counsel Toyin Salako and defense attorney Alex Davies were scheduled to make their closing speeches on Friday morning.
Instead, Mr. Davies asked that his client be pleaded again. That is when Mr. Paolini, now 77, entered his new plea.
Justice Philip St. John-Stevens commented that jurors might be wondering why the defendant had pleaded guilty at this stage – why not weeks ago, or at the beginning of the trial?
He said Mr. Paolini had had time to reflect overnight and decided to change his plea. By so doing, he had not put jurors through the anguish of deciding a verdict and the court would give him credit for that, the judge explained.
Such a turn of events did happen, although he had seen it only “very rarely” in his 30 years in criminal courts, he added.
The next step was to set a date for sentencing.
Mr. Paolini was found guilty by another jury last summer of stealing $51,600 from another client on or about Feb. 25, 2013. In that case, he had pleaded not guilty but admitted using the client’s money without her permission to pay rent and other expenses for his business, Cayman Real Estate Company. The client never got her money back and she never acquired the land she had wanted to purchase.
After that jury’s verdict, sentencing was postponed because a social inquiry report was requested, with Mr. Paolini bailed for another date.
Meanwhile, this second theft charge had to be dealt with.
Justice St. John-Stevens did not preside at the first trial, but it was expected that he will be passing sentence for both thefts.
He set April 5 for the matter to return to court, and extended Mr. Paolini’s bail until then.