Ministry of Agriculture worker found not guilty of theft
From the Courts
February 21, 2020

Ministry of Agriculture worker found not guilty of theft

AN EMPLOYEE OF the Ministry of Agriculture, who has been working there for 11 years, was acquitted at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court, which found that she never intended to dishonestly deprive the Government of $1,500.

Fiziela Clarke,of Sandy Bay, was 29 years old when she was charged last year, with on July 5, 2019 stealing $1527.50 in cash, the property of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

However, on Friday, February 7, 2020, Clarke, represented by her lawyer Israel Bruce, was able to lodge a successful defense, so that senior magistrate, Rickie Burnett, who was presiding over the trial, declared her innocent of the charge.

The events as they unfolded according to the defense’s lawyer, contacted by SEARCHLIGHT on Monday, February 10, are that Clarke was on vacation at the time. She was instructed by her supervisor at the Orange Hill station not to collect any money from the outstations during her vacation.

Apparently, the practice before this had always been that she would collect money, even while she was on vacation, and take it in. It is said that she was also asked to report to work even while she was on vacation, or things taken to her home so that she may assist with work. However, on July 5, when she was on vacation, a woman from the Walliabou station handed money to Clarke in a black plastic bag expecting her to take it to the Orange Hill station.

At that time, the defendant was in Kingstown on personal business. However, when she realised she would not be able to drop the money in on that day, she sent a whatsapp message to her supervisor advising that she had been handed money by one, Miss Miller, and advising that she would drop it off when she had time.

The following weekend was the Carnival weekend, and the office wasn’t open for four days. After the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday passed without her going to the office to hand in the money, the police went on the Saturday to find her.

Clarke’s position was that she didn’t get a chance to drop the money off on these three days, but she intended to drop it off the following Monday. Clarke is said to have told the police that she had the money with her and didn’t intend to steal it, showing the bag to them. She is also said to have called her supervisor while she was at the police station. However, it is alleged the police did not want to take the from her, and the supervisor did not want anything to do with the matter since it was in the hands of the police.

Both the supervisor and the secretary testified in court that Clarke was told not to collect any money from the outstations before going on her vacation; but when asked by the counsel whether the outstations were informed not to give her any money while she was on vacation, the supervisor said he had not told them.

Clarke said that she could not remember being told not to collect money.

Another point raised by the defense was that Miller had handed the money to Clarke without indicating how much it was was or showing the contents of the bag to Clarke.

The court is said to have found that she was not dishonest, and did not mean to appropriate the sum, didn’t treat it as her own money, and didn’t intend to permanently deprive the Government of over $1500. Therefore, the elements to prove theft were absent.

Her counsel says that he is expecting them to reinstate her to her job, and to make the full payments that are outstanding to her between the period July 2019 and February 2020 “and beyond.”