Monday 24 February, 2020

Accounts clerk sentenced for stealing over $1 million

An accounts clerk found guilty of using "government's coffers as [his] personal piggy bank" by stealing over one million dollars, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Anderson Ryan Ince, 43, was handed his fate today when he appeared in the No.2 Supreme Court. A jury found Ince guilty back in October 2017. 

The resident of Hannays, St Lucy, and formerly of Yearwood Road, Sugar Hill, St Joseph, was found guilty on two counts - stealing $1,18,500 belonging to the Psychiatric Hospital, between August 1, 2003 and August 1, 2005 and engaging in money laundering, involving $1,118,500, which were the proceeds of crime between 2003 and 2005.

Ince, who was represented by attorney-at-law Steve Gollop, maintained his innocence throughout the trial.  

Evidence suggested Ince entered the names of two persons, Anthony Nurse and Terryann Badenock, as vendors into the smart stream system by using the passwords of his co-workers with higher levels of clearance. Cheques were then written to Nurse and Badenock for goods which were never supplied to the hospital. The cheques were collected from the treasury by Ince.

A representative in charge of the smart stream government accounting system realised what was happening when she reviewed the system and saw certain discrepancies. Ince was discovered to be the entrance officer for all such transactions. 

With the dishonestly acquired funds, Ince bought two cars, furniture and jewelry for himself and females. He was suspended from the Psychiatric Hospital and investigated.

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During the sentencing, Justice Weekes recalled aspects of his pre-sentencing report. The report said Ince came from a disciplined environment and was described as a respectful, family-oriented person by friends and family. Family, co-workers and community members were said to be shocked by Ince's guilty conviction.

Gollop, during submissions before sentencing, drew the jury's attention to the mitigating factors, including the fact that Ince had no previous convictions and that no violence was used. The lawyer asked the court for a more rehabilitative approach rather than merely punitive to give Ince the chance to return to the straight and narrow. He suggested a two-year term, which he supported with case law.

On the other hand, Director of Public Prosecutions, Donna Babb-Agard QC considered two years a mockery when considering case law where the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating ones, as in Ince's case. She considered Ince's actions as a serious breach of trust; saying he used the "government's coffers at his own piggy bank" and the impact on the public confidence could not be underscored.

The lead prosecutor suggested a starting point of 10 years, a suggestion agreed with by the high court judge.

Justice Weekes said a custodial sentence was justified to "protect the public".

She considered a number of facts of the case including the serious breach of trust, the period which showed the planning and execution of an elaborate scheme to dishonestly take money, and the effect on the victim. 

The victim, she said, was the Government of Barbados through the Psychiatric Hospital which was defrauded of a substantial sum, none of which was repaid. 

"In effect you stole from the taxpayers of Barbados," she told Ince.

Ince had his time on remand discounted from the 10-year starting point and was sentenced to nine years, 111 days on both counts. The sentences will run concurrently.

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