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Hotel worker who admitted to theft retains lawyer and changes her plea to not guilty

Hotel worker who admitted to theft retains lawyer and changes her plea to not guilty
Maruth Francois (right) now says she is not guilty of the theft of US$1140

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On the morning that she was supposed to be sentenced for stealing money from a member of the delegation of the President of India, a hotel worker has changed her plea.

Sandy Bay/Diamond resident Maruth Francois retained lawyer Grant Connell who was present with her at the Serious Offences Court(SOC) on Tuesday, May 24.

The defence indicated that they would like the charge to be read to Francois again. When Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne read the charge that Francois, between May 14 and 19 at Villa, stole US$1140, the property of Anju Sharma of Suriname, the young woman replied that she was ‘Not Guilty’.

This meant that the matter was propelled back to square one despite facts, mitigation and representation all having been completed the day before on Monday, May 23, when Francois told the court she was guilty.

In the circumstances the SOC cannot conduct the trial and the matter was therefore transferred to the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court and adjourned to May 27.

In the interim, bail in the sum of $5000 with one surety was allowed, and travel documents must be surrendered. Reporting conditions to the Calliaqua police station once a week must be fulfilled by Francois. Stop notices will be issued against her at all points of entry and exit.

The court also ordered disclosure to the defendant.

Sharma, who works in the office of the ambassador of India, was one of the persons who made preparations for the recent state visit of the President of India. She was keeping her money in a secure place in her room at the hotel that the entire delegation was staying at. When Sharma is said to have discovered her money missing, she was just about to go out with the First Lady of India. On Monday it was said that Sharma’s departure date from St Vincent and the Grenadines was scheduled for today, Tuesday, May 24.