Former realtor Antonio Paolini, convicted of thefts from two clients, had his sentencing concluded on Thursday, when the judge determined that he would not make any order for compensation.
Justice Philip St. John-Stevens said he was making no such order because of Mr. Paolini’s lack of means to pay.
“You are no longer before the court. You may go,” he told the defendant.
Mr. Paolini was found guilty by a jury of stealing $51,600 from a woman who had paid for a parcel of land but never received it or her money back. That offense occurred in 2013 and trial took place in August 2017.
In early 2018, Mr. Paolini went to trial for theft from another client, this one in 2014. At the close of the case for the prosecution, he changed his plea from “not guilty” to “guilty.” Some money had been returned to this second complainant, but $14,500 was still owed.
Since Justice St. John Stevens had presided over the aborted trial, he was the sentencing judge for both matters. In August 2018, he imposed prison terms of two years and 19 months, to run concurrently; he suspended the sentences for two years.
Defense attorney Alex Davies had put forward Mr. Paolini’s previous good character, noting the defendant was 78 years old. He had not used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle: he had used it for business expenses, such as office rent and staff salaries.
As part of the mitigation placed before the court, there was an expectation that he would be able to compensate his victims.
Crown counsel Toyin Salako applied for compensation orders, but Mr. Davies asked for an adjournment so that Mr. Paolini could attempt to work and gather funds for repayment.
As things turned out, there was an impediment to his working – he could not travel to obtain parts for his computer repair business.
On Thursday, the court was presented with an affidavit of means, which demonstrated an inability to pay compensation. The court was also advised of Mr. Paolini’s medical condition. He now relied on assistance from the state for everyday needs and he was unable to generate any other income.
The judge noted that he was not of the view that Mr. Paolini’s declaration of intention to pay was “hollow.”
He pointed to established law regarding compensation orders. A period of imprisonment can be imposed in default of payment if such an order is made, but such an order should not be made when there is inability to pay.
Justice St. John Stevens pointed out that there were civil remedies available, “which sometimes are best suited to collect debt.”