A domestic worker who agreed to give a passer-by a glass of water lost more than $200 as a result, Magistrate Kirsty-Ann Gunn heard on Wednesday.
She was dealing with Monica Veronica Smith, 42, who was sentenced in Summary Court for theft, with previously suspended sentences activated, for a total of 10 months, three weeks’ imprisonment.
Crown counsel Emma Hutchinson shared a summary of facts on the case. She explained that the complainant was a domestic worker at her place of employment in West Bay at the time, when on July 24, 2015, a woman came to the door and asked for a glass of water. The complainant agreed to give her some and the woman asked to use the bathroom first.
After using the bathroom, she left hurriedly, without the water she had asked for. This caused the complainant to be suspicious and when she went to check her purse, cash was missing in the sums of CI$195 and US$35. She reported the matter to police.
Ms. Smith was spoken to some weeks later and admitted to taking money, but denied the amount. She said she had found the money on the bathroom floor.
Both Ms. Hutchinson and defense attorney John Furniss referred to Ms. Smith’s record of previous convictions, which totaled 41 as of seven years ago.
Mr. Furniss advised that the defendant had applied to the Drug Rehabilitation Court after earlier offending. She spent eight weeks at the residential treatment facility Caribbean Haven and was compliant with the drug court program for a while after that. She then “went missing” in June 2017 and returned to court earlier this year.
Ms. Smith pointed out that, in addition to time at Caribbean Haven, she had been in a halfway house for five weeks, during which time she had asked the court for a stricter curfew than had been required. The magistrate said she would give credit accordingly.
She told the defendant, “You have a long record of petty offending.”
She commented that some people might think low-level thefts should not attract heavy penalties such as imprisonment, “but you are becoming a nuisance,” the magistrate told Ms. Smith.
Ms. Smith had been in court previously for the theft of $160 on June 24, 2014. She pleaded guilty on June 9, 2015 and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years. On the same date, she received concurrent sentences for two charges of theft by shoplifting items worth $37.98 and $21.77, respectively.
Six weeks after receiving the suspended sentence, she stole from the domestic helper, so immediate imprisonment was necessary, the magistrate said.
The only mitigation was Ms. Smith’s guilty plea and her attempts at treatment for her drug addiction. With credit for time on curfew and in treatment, plus a discount for the guilty plea, the sentence was six months, three weeks. Given how quickly she had re-offended, the term of four months previously suspended was activated.