Car salesman guilty of theft

A former car salesman has been found guilty of selling a car and keeping proceeds of more than $14,000 from his former employer, Alnima Motors. 

Nevile Katopau Tietie was found guilty of theft from his former employer in a verdict handed down on Friday afternoon, by Supreme Court Justice, Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala. 

The incident occurred in 2016, when Tietie was working at the car dealership in Lepea. 

According to the Prosecution case on four separate occasions, between 1 July 2016 and 31 September 2016, a customer paid money in installments totalling $14,000 for a Toyota Premio 2005. 

The customer, Sio Sotoa gave evidence that he had struck an agreement with the former salesman allowing him access to the car once he had paid off half the price. 

“Sio Satoa’s evidence is that he gave the accused a total of $14,0000 in the following amounts in 2016; $9000, $3000, $1000, and $1000,” the court heard. 

“On 22 July 2016, he says he was given the car by the accused and he registered it with [the Land Transport Authority]. 

“He says he paid all the instalments to the accused  at Alnima Motors. He was certain that when he gave the $3,000 to the accused in the Alnima Motors office, the accused told him that he would drop off his receipt after work. He never received this receipt.”

Tietie told the court he gave all the money to Shahjahan Fazor (‘Jahan’), the manager of Alnima Motors and four receipts were issued.

But the managing director said Alnima Motors since 2010, said the accused dealt with customers and issued receipts. 

“He would only be consulted on the price of vehicles. He says he has never met Sio Satoa and has never issued him a receipt. He says he has never received $14, 000 from the accused or Sio Satoa,” the court was told. 

Justice Tafaoimalo said the evidence in the hearing was straight forward and not in dispute:

“I accept that Sio Satoa was not given any receipts for his payments which he gave to the accused for the Toyota Premio 2005. I also accept there is no other receipt book used by Alnima Motors at that time apart from the two receipt books which they tendered into evidence.”

Justice Tafaoimalo unreservedly accepted the evidence of Jahan and Sio Satoa. 

“They were credible as witnesses and their evidence was plausible and reliable. Both were genuine and forthcoming in the giving of their evidence,” the Judge said.  

“I do not accept the evidence of the accused. He conceded that he was given a total of $14,000.00 from Sio Satoa but proceeded to blame Jahan for receiving the money and issuing the receipts. This is contrary to both Jahan and Sio Satoa’s evidence.” 

Justice Tafaoimalo said Tietie’s evidence was implausible and untrustworthy:

“He was not convincing as a witness and I found his evidence to be unreliable. He did not offer a plausible or believable narrative about the money from Sio Satoa.” 

It was revealed in court that the prosecution told the court of the accused’s previous conviction on five counts of theft as a servant in 2018 in relation to the same employer, as evidence of his propensity to criminal behaviour. 

Justice Tafaoimalo concluded and found the prosecution has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused dishonestly took $14,000 from his employer. 

The defendant will be sentenced 16 October 2020. The accused will continue to be released on bail; a pre-sentence report was ordered by the judge. 



Bg pattern light


Subscribe to Samoa Observer Online

Enjoy access to over a thousand articles per month, on any device as well as feature-length investigative articles.

Ready to signup?