ONE of the men who robbed the ANZ bank Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) at Kwaimani Building in East Honiara in 2014 has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Dilo Faiga was sentenced this week after pleading guilty to one count of armed robbery and one count of malicious damage.
He earlier denied the charges and a voir dire was conducted earlier this year.
Faiga changed his plea to that of “guilty” after the court rejected his argument to have the record of the interview to be excluded as part of the evidence for this matter.
Principal Magistrate Felix Hollison in his sentencing remarks said that robbery and other property-related offences smeared the image of the country.
He said this is in terms of its economic climate especially for foreign business investors who may want to invest in the country and also the existing investors who are now in the country.
“Robbery involving commercial banks and businesses must be condemned in the sturdiest of terms and a strong message must be made and imparted to the public through the issuance of deterrent sentences,” Hollison said.
Hollison added that this is a serious instance of robbery in which a commercial bank was targeted in this country.
“This is also not the first instance that a commercial bank was targeted in this country,” Hollison added.
He said there are a good number of robbery cases that have occurred in the country in recent years up to the present in which business houses were targeted.
“One of the defendants in this offence carried a gun during the time of the robbery.
“This made this offence even more serious and the only appropriate sentence is one of a custodial sentence.
Hollison said ANZ bank also further suffered the loss of their ATM which is irreparable damage valued at $120,000.
He said this is a substantial loss for the bank apart from the money stolen from the ATM machine.
“I am of the view that the maximum penalty of two years imprisonment under section 326(1) of the Penal Code (Cap 26) for malicious damage should be reviewed and the Parliament may wish to increase the maximum sentenced to five years imprisonment to carter for substantial damages worth hundreds of thousands of dollars or even in the millions.”
The robbery incident occurred on the night of 25 July 2015 at the Kwaimani Building.
Faiga and two other men, Severio Sulimae and Au went in a car with a fake registration number plate to the Kwaimani Building that night.
The men then uprooted the ATM using two iron bars carried it to their vehicle before heading to Henderson, East of Honiara.
The machine contained more than $450,000.
At Henderson, it was alleged they opened the machine and stole $262,900 from the top tray as they could not open the bottom tray.
On 26 July 2014, police located and recovered the ATM at Alligator Creek near Henderson.
That same day, Faiga bought a car from another man for $37,000.
The damaged ATM machine with the sum of $187,271 was returned to ANZ staff in August 2014.
Another man who involved in the robbery namely Severio Sulimae was already sentenced to four and a half years in jail in 2017 after he confessed to the ATM robbery.
A security officer who was manning the Kwaimani building at the time of the offending was initially jointly charged with the two accused.
He later became a prosecution witness but died in 2016.
Faiga was arrested and remanded in custody in August 2014 and was released on bail on 4 December 2014.
A warrant of arrest was issued for him after he failed to turn up in court in 2017.
Police re-arrested Faiga in North Malaita in 2018 and remanded him in custody.
In December 2019, Faiga and two other prisoners escaped from the Rove Correctional facility.
They were recaptured by police task force “Operation Hunt-Man” in February and Faiga was sent to prison for seven months for escaping lawful custody.
In relation to the current sentence, two years and 18 months Faiga had spent in custody were also ordered to be backdated from the four years imprisonment.
Lazarus Waroka of Public Solicitor’s Office represented Faiga while Public Prosecutor Patricia Tabepuda appeared for the Crown.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN