By Latrishka Thomas
Jose Mercedes, who has been living in Antigua for 12 years, pleaded not guilty to theft in St John’s Magistrate’s Court in July 2020.
The events unfolded in January 2020 when the complainant, a well-known businessman, purchased two truck batteries valued at $686.96 each from Automotive Art. He also kept eight gallons of unleaded gas, worth $100, on his property in case of an emergency.
The following month, the defendant and another employee were asked to use the new batteries to start the complainant’s wife’s jeep, which they did.
In February, one of the batteries and the gas were discovered missing.
The defendant, who has worked for the complainant for 10 years, was the only employee who had full access to the complainant’s property and also had certain privileges.
Upon investigating a report of theft, police heard that the defendant had asked another employee for a battery, which one of his friends wanted to purchase.
The complainant asked all of the employees individually whether or not they had stolen the items and they all denied doing so. But one employee claimed that the defendant admitted to him that he had stolen the battery.
Mercedes, 35, was arrested on suspicion, and later formally charged with stealing the items.
After a short trial, the Chief Magistrate found him guilty of the crime and imposed the fine on him yesterday.
If he fails to pay up, he will spend three months behind bars.