Four men who broke into the Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL) construction office and stole valuable properties worth more than $37, 000 have been sentenced to various imprisonment terms on Monday.
This followed guilty pleas entered by Walter Onumumu, Martin Mepeni, Jeffery Miveabu and Michael Lano to the charge of office break in.
The maximum penalty of this offence is 14 years imprisonment.
Principal Magistrate Augustine Aulanga imposed a head start sentence of three years imprisonment for all the accused.
He however reduced five months for Onumumu to reflect his early guilty plea and the delay it took to finalize his case while six months was reduced for the rest of the accused persons.
The court heard that Onumumu had seven previous convictions while Mepeni has one.
After the reductions, Onumumu is left with 31 months of imprisonment while the rest were to serve 30 months imprisonment term.
The time they spent in custody was ordered to be taken into account.
Mr Aulanga in his sentencing remarks said he has noted that this offence is becoming prevalent in the country.
“Business people, companies, private and government offices often become the victims of this offending.
“Even the Magistrates Court building was subjected to this particular offending in the past.
“Due to laziness, the need for quick money and no care attitude, a lot of people simply indulged themselves in the commission of this offence.”
He said in that particular case, a company again becomes a victim.
Mr Aulanga told the four accused persons that the remarks he made shows the court’s position on its disapproval of this type of offending which they were convicted of.
“You knew very well that the properties you stole were not your properties.
“You knew that you were embarking on a mission to commit a crime which risk getting you into prison if found by police,” Mr Aulanga told them.
He told them they all knew that obvious consequence, yet they did not bother to stop and think whether this would do them any good or their other family members since they were married persons.
“All these positive and simple common sense thoughts just vanished and clouded by your selfish and stupidity perhaps for the need to get quick money from the sale of those items or for other purposes only known to you.”
Mr Aulanga added that to help stamp out this kind of unlawful activities and to ensure rule of law prevails in our society where other peoples’ properties are respected and cannot be unlawfully taken at the whims of another person, the court as the institution which people of this country have faith and trust must act in the public interest and be vigilant by imposing strong deterrent messages against such offenders.
“If not, our societies will become a hub for such offending.”
This incident occurred between 19 March 2016 and 22 March 2016 where the four cut a security fence and entered the premises of GPPOL construction office.
They then proceed straight to the building and made a forced entry using a pinch bar to lever up the door.
The court heard they further entered inside the building by unlocking other doors and then removed the properties including a drop saw, circular saw, grinders, metal cutter plus other valuable items totaling up to around $37, 000.
Police had recovered some of those properties but other items worth $7, 913 have not been recovered.
The accused men after removing those items escaped in a get-away vehicle to Onumumu’s residence in Honiara but later voluntarily surrendered themselves to police.
They all represented themselves in court while Police Prosecutor Lete Tebakota represented the State.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN