A 36-year-old mother has been jailed for 18 months for theft as a servant.
The sentence for Samantha Tavita was handed down by Justice Vui Clarence Nelson after she had pleaded guilty to two charges of theft as a servant.
Tavita was working as an Area Manager for the Sales and Marketing team at Vailima Breweries when she was accused of stealing $12,960 from the company.
During the hearing, Tavita’s lawyer, Leota Tima Leavai, argued that her client did not steal the money.
Instead, she said the money was lost while it was in her possession.
Leota said her client admitted that the money was handed to her but between her and the office, it got lost.
She also told the court Tavita has already paid $12,000 to the complainant and she plans to pay the remaining $960 next week.
The lawyer asked the Court that the offending should be treated at a lower scale of criminality due to the fact her client did not use the money for herself.
But Justice Vui intervened and told Leota the Court cannot accept her argument.
“She should have pleaded not guilty and run your defence,” said Justice Vui.
In handing out his decision, Justice Vui said Tavita betrayed the trust placed in her by her employer.
“You violated that trust. You stole $12,960 and that is a significant amount of money.”
As for the call for the Court to consider the matter at the lower scale of criminality, Justice Vui disagreed.
He said shoplifting from a supermarket is at a lower scale of criminality but stealing from an employer is unacceptable.
“This is different. This is a very common offence in Samoa and in mainly young mothers. I see them in my court every Monday.”
Justice Vui also stressed that he understands the pressure faced by many employees in relation to family commitments.
But that does not mean they should steal.
“I have sent young mothers to Tafaigata for this offence. It is very hard they are sent to prison because the family and children are innocent. They are the victims of your actions.”
Justice Vui also sent a message to members of the public.
“If you are thinking of commiting this offence, Tafaigata is your fate.”