It is a case that has many lawyers debating which is more costly: spending thousands of US dollars to prosecute the theft US$34.50 worth of goods; or setting a precedent of leniency against petty theft.
Monrovia Club Breweries has sued three of its employees accused of stealing six gallons of draft stout with a market value of L$3,450 (US$34.50) to Criminal Court ‘C’ for prosecution. The company in its lawsuit, dated 2011, claimed that at their premises in Duala, Bushrod Island, the defendants without the consent of their employer stole six gallons of draft stout.
The trial could not take place yesterday because lawyers representing the employees asked the court to allow them to review the prosecutor’s charges against their clients; a request which was accepted.
The case has been rescheduled for today, December 6.
Defendants Augustine Jankpolo, Daniel Blay and Clarence Williams face the charges of theft of property and criminal conspiracy, but Williams is the only one being tried as the whereabouts of his codefendants remain unknown.
Besides, the Monrovia Club Breweries and defendant Williams have spent more than US$2,000 to hire lawyers to represent their respective legal interests in a case involving less than US$35 in damages.
Many legal experts, who pleaded not to be identified, described the matter as “disappointing and a waste of resources.”
One of the lawyers even argued that hearing such a matter is meant to delay the court from hearing serious criminal cases.
“This matter should have been heard at the level of the Magisterial Court and not the Circuit,” the lawyer argued.
“How was this indictment prepared? Did the Magisterial Court even have the opportunity to hear it before the indictment was prepared?” another lawyer wondered.
Monrovia Club Breweries further claimed that co-defendants Blay and Williams admitted to receiving some portion of the stolen property.
It was based on these points that the Montserrado County grand jury indicted Blay, Williams and Jankpolo for the commission of the crimes theft of property and criminal conspiracy.