TAS defendant to be sentenced on Friday

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Penina Ie’u has been acquitted on the counts of theft as a servant involving $1,400 payment but was found guilty of one charge of theft.

This was outlined in a ruling issued recently by Supreme Court Justice Fepulea’i Ameperosa Roma following a bench trial against Ie’u.

The prosecution called six witnesses – four from the complainant Apia Finance Company and two of its customers.

The accused was employed at the recoveries section of Apia Finance from January 2020 to June 17 2021 and they were responsible for contacting debtors and following up on loan payments, including visiting them at their workplaces to collect payments.

In June 2021, the accused was suspended following a discovery that she lied about a family funeral to obtain leave. During the suspension, some customers contacted the company to check their payments and found no record. There are two clients cited, Melanie and Filifili.

The prosecution claims the accused collected payments amounting to $1,400 from Melanie. Judge Roma cited he does not doubt that Apia Finance did not receive any payments. However, the Judge cannot rely on Melanie’s account given she kept no record of each date and time and amount of payment if any was made.

Yet months later in a brief statement to police on 28 July 2021, she was specific on the dates and amounts of payments she made to the accused.

Also, he found it difficult to accept that someone in Melania’s position, would have allowed the accused to receive significant sums of monies without receipts, and not taken steps to at least inquire with Apia Finance whether her payments had been accounted for or to confirm the status of her loan.

His honours noted that the onus is on the prosecution to prove the amount charged beyond a reasonable doubt and he is not satisfied with Melania’s evidence that it has. The benefit of the doubt must be exercised in favour of the accused. The charge is accordingly dismissed.

However, for the $50 payment, made by Filifili to the accused, two payments were accounted for and appear on the company’s system. Judge Roma had no doubt in Filifili’s evidence she made two payments of $50, but she was not issued receipts for both payments. One is reflected in her loan statement.

His honours found the accused took the payment with intent to deprive her employer of its interest therein permanently.

The defendant is scheduled for sentencing this Friday.