TWO men who stole 36 tanks belonging to the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) projects in 2017 and then sold them to other people were both sentenced to two years in prison, Monday.
Wilson Innie Hiro and Hilly Manase were sentenced following their conviction after a trial for 28 counts each of simple larceny.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea in his sentencing remarks said those who wish to commit similar offences must be reminded that the Courts will not tolerate such unlawful behaviour and will impose sufficient punishment upon being found guilty.
“The society needs to be protected from selfish people who engaged in stealing and have no respect for properties of others,” DCM Iomea said.
It was heard that in 2016, Rural Water Supplies and Sanitation Hygiene (RWASH)/MHMS had paid a total of $194,600 for two projects, one for the Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL) and the other for Renbel to the Island Tanks Ltd.
These were for 36 tanks.
DCM Iomea said the facts found after the trial are that RWASH/MHMS had never received the water tanks which they paid for in two cheques received by Island Tanks on 24 May 2016.
The court had heard that instead, the two men conspired, and had the 36 tanks collected on different dates in 2017 and sold them to other people.
The court had found that Manase was the inside person at Island Tanks Ltd and was the instigator of the plan to sell the tanks.
Manase was working at Island Tanks Ltd at that time and was the one who received the two cheques paid for the Rural Water Supplies and Sanitation Hygiene (RWASH) projects.
Hiro who is not an employee of Island Thanks Ltd or RWASH was found that did what he did on the advice of Manase who works there and who was aware of the payments for the tanks.
DCM Iomea said the two defendants had clearly intended to deprive RWASH/MHMS of their projects.
He said the entire offending was pre-planned by two defendants and had involved others.
“Manasseh is the instigator, he was the inside person at Island Tanks Limited.
“This is a serious breach of trust by him against his employer.
“The company had placed trust on him to ensure that tanks ordered and paid for are delivered to the buyers.
“His actions clearly contradicted the trust placed on him by his employer,” DCM Iomea said.
He added that they also misled the buyers by telling them the tanks belong to a project but were no longer needed.
“The two defendants had benefited from the offending although the tanks were recovered by police during investigation.
“It appears most of the buyers of the tanks had lost the money they had paid for the tanks delivered to them from this criminal enterprise.
“The offending was repeated on a daily basis until the last of the tanks were delivered from island tanks,” DCM Iomea further added.
The court heard Hiro has a prior conviction of simple larceny in 2004 and where he was sentenced to four months imprisonment.
Public Solicitor’s lawyers Rodney Manebosa and Daniel Kwalai represented the two accused while Public Prosecutor Margaret Suifa’asia appeared for the Crown.