By Latrishka Thomas
An elderly woman who lost $80,000 three years ago when thieves broke into her Bolans home and stole the “box money” she was holding on behalf of local residents, will only be compensated one-eighth of that amount.
This is because at the end of the court proceeding in Antigua and Barbuda’s first judge-only trial yesterday, the accused was sentenced to pay the victim $10,000.
Rohan Jarvis, also of Bolans, stood trial last month with his fate solely in the hands of Justice Ann-Marie Smith.
Jarvis was accused of conspiring with another man to steal the money from a retiree, Gretlin Thomas, who held a “box”, also called a sou-sou, sub, or savings, for a number of residents in Bolans.
The incident reportedly occurred on August 22 2018.
Jarvis, 33, was represented by attorney Wendel Robinson in the case in which several witnesses gave sworn testimonies.
The court heard that Thomas was holding the box monies on behalf of almost 200 people – a service she had been providing for nearly 20 years.
She had accumulated the monies from three boxes that she ran concurrently.
The monies were being stored in two cash pans which were missing when she returned home on the day of the incident.
On the night of the incident, the police found two cash pans that Thomas said belonged to her. They were however damaged and empty. The woman also claimed that her husband found loose change around the yard.
Jarvis was found guilty in early July of stealing the money from the elderly woman.
His co-conspirator, Leon George, had pleaded guilty to breaking into the woman’s home sometime before and was ordered to pay $5,000.
Prior to being sentenced yesterday, Jarvis’ lawyer asked the court to be merciful with his client, and quoted from William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, saying, “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes….”
He noted that Jarvis was a first-time offender who has an issue with “keeping bad company”.
“There is room and time for him to rehabilitate himself and I’m asking the court to afford him that,” the lawyer said.
The lawyer further suggested that, “the justice of this court will be met if the court rewards reasonable compensation”.
The complainant was then called to the stand and asked how the incident has affected her.
Thomas said, “Right now it’s still affecting me. I had to go and borrow money and I am on pension.”
She further disclosed that she has around $39,000 outstanding from a loan she obtained from a credit union to pay the “box” contributors and also owes three friends who lent her $10,000 each.
Justice Smith then stated that Jarvis’ conduct was “extremely unfavourable”, noting that when his friends asked him to return the money, he refused to do so.
She further recalled that he pleaded not guilty to the offence and expressed no remorse.
Jarvis was then ordered to compensate Thomas the sum of $10,000 – $5,000 of which he has to pay forthwith and the balance in monthly instalments of $1,500, starting from September.
For each default of payment, he will spend six months at Her Majesty’s Prison