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Hotel worker charged with theft to return to court today

Hotel worker charged with theft to return to court today

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TODAY, MAY 27, a hotel worker alleged to have stolen money from an employee of the office of the Ambassador of India will appear at the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court.

Maruth Francois, who is originally from Sandy Bay but living in Diamond, first appeared at the Serious Offences Court (SOC) on Monday, May 23. There she initially admitted that, between May 14 and 19, at Villa, she stole US$1140, the property of Anju Sharma of Suriname.

The details of the alleged crime, mitigation and representations before sentencing were all presented on Monday after which Chief Magistrate, Rechanne Browne indicated that she would take time to consider the Sentencing Guidelines of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) before handing down her sentence. She adjourned the matter to the following day, Tuesday, May 24, for sentencing and remanded Francois into custody overnight.

However, on Tuesday morning, Francois had retained lawyer Grant Connell. He asked that the charge be read to her again. When this was done Francois changed her plea from ‘guilty’ to ‘not guilty’.

Having neared completion of the sentencing process and having heard all the details, the SOC could not continue to handle the case.

The matter was therefore transferred to the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court for May 27.

Francois was allowed bail in the sum of $5000 with one surety. She is to report once every week to the Calliaqua police station and must surrender all travel documents. Stop notices were ordered to be issued against her at all points of entry and exit. The court also ordered that her lawyer be provided with disclosure from the prosecution.

When the matter was presented in the Serious Offences Court, it was revealed that Sharma was one of the persons who made preparations for the recent state visit of the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind. She was keeping her money in a secure place in the room at the hotel at which the entire contingent was staying.

Sharma is said to have discovered her money missing as she was about to go out with the First Lady of India, Savita Kovind. SEARCHLIGHT understands that Sharma will leave St Vincent on Sunday, May 29.