Despite being warned by security, three medical students persisted in their act of theft of over $900 worth of items from Massy Stores on December 21.
All Saints University College of Medicine students Nafisa Nayhaya, Ruth Omachi and Simisola Babtunde were taken to the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court(KMC) on December 22.
They pleaded guilty to the charge of theft of shrimp, chicken wings, pepper sauce and other assorted groceries worth EC$901.10 from the supermarket, and were remanded in custody to be sentenced on December 28.
According to the information gathered by the police, a loss prevention officer was on duty at the supermarket at around 11:00a.m and received certain information about the three women who had entered the store. Based on what she heard, the loss prevention officer sent back instructions that they should not place items into their shopping bags. However, they ignored the security and continued placing items in their shopping bags, as confirmed by the loss prevention officer who continued to monitor them on CCTV. When they were finished, the students went up to the cash desk and paid for items that were not in their shopping bags and then attempted to leave the store. When they got to the exit they were approached by security, and the receipt was checked. It showed only what they had paid for and not the other items.
The three admitted that they stole the groceries and asked to be able to pay for them.
However, the matter was reported to the police, and they were taken to the Criminal Investigations Department(CID). They gave statements admitting to the offence.
The defendants are Nigerians who came to these shores in January 2020 to pursue their studies. Nayhaya is the youngest at 19 years, while Omachi is 23, and Babtunde is 24 years old.
While in the dock on Tuesday, it seemed as though tears were being shed, and when Omachi spoke she did so with what appeared to be emotion in her voice.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett told them on their return that a prison term would not be the sentence he imposes as a penalty for their offence.
Nonetheless, counsel Grant Connell said he was appearing on their behalf, and mitigated for them.
He submitted that his clients were virgins to the law and extremely remorseful. He also noted that they are “mere mortals” and the “flesh is weak”.
The magistrate explained that the most aggravating feature of the offence is that before they had completed the act, the students had been warned “not to do what they were seen doing.”
The lawyer indicated that this is not what he had been told by his clients.
“They have been on remand for six days, three young ladies at Her Majesty’s Pleasure over Christmas,” Connell also commented. He said that these days would have sent the point home to them that what they did was wrong.
The items have been recovered, and the counsel noted that his clients personally expressed their regret to the victim, Massy Stores.
Prosecutor, Corporal Corlene Samuel said that the aggravating factors of the offence outweigh the mitigating and asked that the sentence of the court when it is handed down be one that reflects the seriousness of the offense. However, the prosecutor also noted the display of remorse and agreed with the defence counsel that the offence would be placed in a lesser category according to the sentencing guidelines.
She agreed with the magistrate that the defendants knew what they did was wrong, and concluded that the crown was not looking at a prison sentence for the crime.
The magistrate said that he would impose a bond on the three defendants, in the sum of $1000. If they commit another offence within the period of one year, causing them to breach the terms of this bond, then they will have to pay $1000 forthwith or spend three months in prison.
A group of similarly aged adults to the three defendants was gathered outside the court waiting for the outcome. A few of the men in this group showed signs of aggressiveness when addressed by a media house, and when the three women emerged, the group huddled around the defendants in what appeared to be an attempt to hide them from the cameras.