High court on Tuesday ordered Wesley Poloso known as ‘toy boy’ to serve four years in prison after reviewing his earlier sentence of two and half years.
Poloso has tricked the government of about $1.5 million, after acquiring a tender to ship building materials to rural clinics in Manuopo, Temotu province and Malaita Outer Islands, which was never done.
The magistrate sentenced him to two and half years but gave a discount of 50% on each count from the maximum sentence provided of 5 years imprisonment.
This means since an appropriate starting point was 4 years imprisonment on each count, the 50% reduction should have resulted in him being sentenced to 2 years imprisonment, not 2 years imprisonment on each count.
According to the High court judgement on Tuesday, the learned Magistrate has made several errors, first, he incorrectly discounted the maximum sentence of 5 years rather than discounting what he determined to be the appropriate starting point of 4 years imprisonment.
Second, he mistakenly acceded to the defence submission that there was only one transaction.
“The circumstances however clearly demonstrate two successful attempts to obtain very large sums of money.
“They related to two different projects, in different parts of the country, with two separate applications made at different times, with the payment of two separate and differing amounts paid at differing times. The sentences should have been ordered to be served consecutively,” high court said.
“Third, the learned Magistrate has placed too much weight on the defence submission that the accused was “only a toy boy”.
“Whatever the defence meant by that submission, it is clear that the inference that the Court was meant to draw was that the accused played only a minor part in these frauds which obtained almost $1.6 million.
“Nothing could be further from the true position. Without his participation, there would have been no fraud,” high court said.
“Fourth, the learned Magistrate failed to place sufficient weight on the seriousness of the offences.
“Not only the seriousness in terms of the criminality of the act, but also of the significant and serious consequences to the international standing and reputation of the Solomon Islands together with the hardships caused to the intended beneficiaries,” high court said.
As such the high court judge ordered the accused to sentence to two years imprisonment on both counts with the sentences to be served consecutively.
The total term of imprisonment is therefore 4 years.