Kesia Fergus, a teacher at the School for Special Needs, Kingstown, who was relieved of $300 by a man who tricked the school’s authorities into believing that he worked for BRAGSA, is of the view that jail has not worked for the culprit.
Fergus, one of four teachers who suffered losses at the hands the man, voiced her feelings at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Monday, where the defendant, Jason Delpleche, a 24-year-old Edinboro man, pleaded guilty to stealing $300 from her at the school, on September 9, 2020.
Delpleche also pleaded guilty to dishonestly relieving sums of money from three other teachers – Carol Douglas, Kendra King and Nadia Windsor – at the Sion Hill Primary School, on September 14, 2020.
Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett had called Fergus and the other teachers to the stand to hear from them before sentencing Delpleche, as the issue of compensation had arose. But Fergus, a Sion Hill resident, told the Court that the question was what the Court should do with Delpleche, as imprisonment had not helped.
Burnett had disclosed earlier that Delpleche had several convictions for theft and burglary committed in various communities across the country, and that he had entered the Criminal Justice System as a juvenile, his first offence being theft.
“I agree with Miss Fergus that prison has not helped, and is not helping. Something went on in his life at a very young age. Where were his parents then?” the Senior Magistrate questioned.
Prosecutor Cornelius Tittle expressed concern that if Delpleche was not sent to prison, he would continue to commit similar offences.
“Well he will eventually have to come out,” Burnett responded.
“I will be happy not to send him back to prison, but what do we do with him?” he queried.
Burnett said that many of the adults who came before him on an almost daily basis started their lives of crime many, many moons ago.
The Magistrate then ordered the 24-year-old man, who said he was a caretaker, to pay compensation to the four teachers: $500 to Carol Douglas of Queen’s Drive; $300 to Kesia Fergus of Sion Hill; $200 to Kendra King, also of Sion Hill; and $50 to Nadia Windsor of Fountain.
Delpleche is to pay Douglas, Fergus and King all the monies by August 31 with an alternative of 4 months in prison, in default of each payment.
In addition, he was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment on each count, but those sentences were suspended for 12 months.
He was also ordered to compensate Windsor by August 31 with an alternative of 2 months in prison, and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment with that sentence also being suspended for 6 months.
Before handing down the penalties, Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett explained that if Delpleche was sent to prison as punishment for the offence while compensation was ordered, he may not be able to pay, as he would be in jail.
He reasoned that the complainants would therefore have to wait until he is released to file for civil action