The Filipino cleaner who had denied a charge of theft at the National Isolation Centre (NIC) changed his testimony yesterday and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to four years’ jail with three whippings by the Intermediate Court.
Judge Muhammed Faisal bin Pehin Datu Juragan Laila Diraja Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Haji Kefli pronounced his sentence on Jay Noel De Vera Gonzales, 40, on a charge of theft in a protected place, an offence that falls under Section 380A of the Penal Code, Chapter 22.
The court found that the case was more aggravated by the fact that it was committed at the NIC during the ongoing pandemic crisis, his role as a cleaner as part of frontliners in the crisis, the theft an opportunistic act and his efforts in commission of the theft itself.
The court also emphasised that enhancement of sentence is necessary to assure the public that the criminal justice system is ready against those criminals who take advantage
of a dire situation.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohd Kamal Ariffin bin Ismail revealed in court that the defendant was on duty at 10am on April 10, 2020 at the decontamination area with his colleague pushing a trolley containing boots and faceshields.
As they passed through the decontamination area, the defendant saw some plastic bags, a luggage bag and a backpack in the hallway.
They then made their way back past when the defendant took the backpack and kept it in a trash bin nearby.
The defendant then carried out his duties along with his colleague as usual.
At 1pm the same day, the defendant wore a pair of fresh gloves, went back to the trash bin and saw the backpack still there.
He left the area leaving behind the backpack still.
At the end of the day, that was when the defendant went back to take the backpack by replacing the trash bin with another from a cleaning room nearby.
The defendant took out the backpack out of sight and stole its contents, a camera, mobile and its cable, GBP685, BND330 and a powerbank.
He then returned the backpack in the trash bin and left it.
The owner who was a patient about to be discharged, went to collect his belongings at 2.30pm to find that his backpack was missing.
He asked around for his backpack only to discover that it was empty and left in a trash bin.
He filed a police report.
Police investigations aided by CCTV cameras at the NIC showed footage of the defendant behaving in a suspicious manner.
He was soon arrested. The stolen items were at his staff house and he had hid the cash near a drain at his residence and thrown away the rest of the items out of the window of hisstaff house.
All the items were recovered by the police.