A young woman on a work permit asked that no conviction be recorded against her on Monday, but Magistrate Valdis Foldats decided that her offense was too serious for him to grant that request.

Jamaica Caballero, 21, had pleaded guilty to a charge of theft at her workplace.

Crown counsel Darlene Oko said Ms. Caballero was a cashier at Foster’s Food Fair on Dorcy Drive when a customer wanted to use a gift card she had received in the amount of $300. She had used it previously, but only for small purchases.

On Sept. 8, 2017, when the woman wanted to use the gift card again, she was told she had only $25 left on it. She spoke with the store manager, who checked point-of-sale records and CCTV.

Investigation showed that Ms. Caballero had transferred $225 from the customer’s gift card to her own card. When interviewed, she admitted the offense and was terminated from her employment.

Ms. Oko said the offense was a breach of trust that affected both the store and the customer.

In terms of culpability, which is generally categorized as being high, medium or low, Ms. Oko suggested the defendant’s culpability was medium. She reached this conclusion because the offense had required a degree of planning; it was not impulsive. She had to manipulate the gift card to transfer the money and then make her own purchases knowing she was using stolen funds, the prosecutor pointed out.

Defense attorney Lee Halliday-Davis said her client admitted the facts, but was asking for a special disposal. She described Ms. Caballero’s personal circumstances as “quite significant.” The date of the offending was the defendant’s 21st birthday, she noted.

Growing up in the Philippines, Ms. Caballero had been separated a long time from her mother, who had to leave the islands in order to find work. Her mother eventually came to Cayman, where she married a Caymanian.

Ms. Caballero then came here and for the first time was living with her mother, along with a brother and her stepfather.

She felt ashamed after she committed the offense, the attorney continued. When asked about it, Ms. Caballero admitted it right away and offered to pay the money back. “If she thought about it, she would have realized that what she did could potentially change her life,” Ms. Halliday-Davis said.

The magistrate asked – Shouldn’t people who come here on work permit know not to break the law so they will not jeopardize their right to be here?

Asked her opinion, Ms. Oko suggested there was some public interest in the matter. She pointed out that, if no conviction were recorded, there was no way for a future employer to know what degree of trust the defendant could be given.

The magistrate postponed his decision to the afternoon so that he could consider the request.

He agreed there were significant mitigating factors, including the impact a conviction would have on Ms. Caballero’s family life and immigration status. He determined, however, that the offense did not allow for no conviction to be recorded. Although the amount stolen was relatively small, it was a planned theft and not impulsive, he indicated.

Foreign nationals who work here must be aware of the consequences of crime, the magistrate said. Their offenses may have an effect on their work permit status, but if that happens it will be as a consequence of their own action, he pointed out.

The sentence imposed was 80 hours of community service and payment of $225 in compensation.

The magistrate said he had no idea what would happen to Ms. Caballero’s work permit status when it came up for renewal.

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