A trial has started on Monday into the case of the High Court officer who allegedly used $20,000 of High Court funds for his own use.
Patterson Pou, who is the office manager at the time of the alleged offending, is standing trial for one count of embezzlement before Chief Magistrate Emmanuel Kouhota.
First prosecution witnesses High Court Registry Clerk, Adrian Koilo testified that on 24 February 2012, he was working at the front desk at the registry office.
He was doing the filing and receiving court fees on that day.
When asked as to how many customers paid court fees that day, Koilo said, he did not remember how many but said Ramo Dausabea was one of the customers.
Koilo said, Dausabea paid $20,000 as deposit for an appeal case.
He told the court when he counted the money, another officer, was there with him.
“I took the money and put it in a cash box and wrote the receipts.
“After that, I took the cash box and the receipt book and give it to the office manager.”
He said inside the cash box apart from the $20,000 are some cheques and money.
When asked how far, the office of the office manager is, he gave an example of the length to the court which was estimated to be 16 to 17 metres.
Koilo told the court he did not meet anyone when he went to the office manager’s office and when he returned.
In cross-examination, Pou’s lawyer Wayne Ghemu of Public Solicitor’s Office told Koilo that in 2012 when he gave his statement to police he only mentioned $20,000 in the cash box.
“Now you are saying there are $20,000 and some cheques.”
Koilo said he only mentioned the $20,000 because police only asked about that money.
It was also heard during cross-examinations that apart from Pou, another four officers were also responsible for receiving cash at the registry office.
Ghemu told Koilo that in 2012 when High Court staff, Gavin Withers asked him about the money, he did not tell anything about the $20,000 except saying he did not know anything.
He put to Koilo that neither he nor the officer with him when he counted the money told Withers that the $20,000 was given to Pou.
Wayne put to Koilo that he did not answer to Gavin Withers on two occasions when he asked him about the $20,000.
He also put to Koilo that it was when police came to investigate at the registry office sometimes in the middle of the year when he stated to police he gave the money to Pou.
Koilo however said he did not remember Withers asking him about the money.
Wayne further put to Koilo that he did not carry the cash box or the $20,000 to Pou that day to which disagreed saying Koilo he did.
Pou was accused of converting for his own use $20,000 being funds collected and received by High Court for Security of Cost for a civil case.
Prosecution alleged there was evidence the money was in fact received by the High Court without any deposit to the Ministry of Finance implies the completion of the whole offence in terms of Embezzlement. On 24 February, 2012, Ramo Dausabea deposited $20,000 at the High Court registry for Security Cost in relation to his civil case pending Court of Appeal determination. Another High Court officer attended Dausabea and issued him with a General Treasury Receipt after paying the money and retained a duplicate copy. He also signed the receipt with relevant details including the date, amount and purpose. The money was later refunded by the Solomon Islands Government through Dausabea’s lawyer after he won his civil case.
The hearing continues today.
Police Prosecutor Elson Konle is representing the State in this case.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN