A 20-year-old man who stole a mobile phone and more than $18,000 cash in Honiara has been sentenced to three years five months in imprisonment.
Carlos Gao was sentenced yesterday after he pleaded guilty to two counts of simple larceny.
The court heard that at around 10am April 8 this year, Gao stole a bag containing $18,800 and other personal items from a bus that was parked in front of L&J Hardware Shop at Kukum seaside.
The complainant and his bus driver were there to purchase building materials. After purchasing the materials from the hardware, the complainant went and waited in the bus for the materials.
The complainant decided to help with the loading of materials so he removed his brown bag from around his neck which contained the money and went to assist with the loading of materials.
It was when the complainant was busy with the loading of materials that Gao approached the bus and removed the bag of money and other personal items.
The matter was reported to police and $1,800 was recovered.
Then on 27th May this year, while Gao was still on bail for the offence he committed in April, he committed another larceny offence.
At around 9pm that date, Gao stole a mobile phone valued at about $4,300 on the counter inside the H&D Enterprise Limited at Kukum area.
According to the complainant, a Bangladeshi National, he was about to close his shop and he placed his phone on the counter while looking for his keys inside the shop when Gao entered the shop, grabbed the phone and escaped.
Police did recover the phone a few weeks after the incident and Gao was arrested.
Principal Magistrate Augustine Aulanga during his sentencing remarks described Gao as a thief and a bad citizen who had no respect for other people’s property.
“He should be ashamed of himself,” Mr Aulanga said.
Mr Aulanga said through his own criminality, he just recorded his name in the criminal records of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force which could impede or jeopardize his prospects of employment in the light of the ongoing overseas employment opportunities such as the Labour Mobility or Seasonal Work Scheme.
Gao had told court that his father is a church pastor and his mother is a leader of a women’s church group.
Mr Aulanga said if that is so then Gao should know better that stealing is a bad thing and a crime.
“His public conduct does not reflect the good and Christian status of his family,” Mr Aulanga said.
He said Gao appeared to be a notorious thief and he is at a loss to understand why his parents, who are well respected senior church leaders of the church, have failed to perform their parental roles, supervision and discipline over Gao.
Gao was also told that the owner of the $17,000 was deprived of 10 percent of his hard earned money.
Mr Aulanga told Gao that this amount of money cannot be easily earned by any Solomon Islander and is very significant for use and survival during this COVID-19 situation.
He said Gao as an unemployed and rightly put, a liability to the community, will not earn this amount even for the next few years.
Having considered the aggravating and mitigating factors and other similar past cases, Mr Aulanga imposed a total of 41 months or three years and five months imprisonment.
The time Gao spent in custody is also taken into account.
Mr Aulanga said the court must send a strong message that carries a tangible result of objectively discouraging and decreasing stealing and its related offences in Honiara and in the country.
“That is, if you steal large amount of money or valuable properties of others, you will go to jail for a long term, nothing more nothing less,” he said.
BY ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN