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Teacher steals EC$28,435 from SMSS book loan scheme

Teacher steals EC$28,435 from SMSS book loan scheme
Je-Ann Jones-Ellis

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Tears flowed as a teacher, who was attached to the St Martins’ Secondary School (SMSS), told the court that the $28,435 she took from the school’s book loan scheme was for medical bills.

Three charges of theft against the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) were handed down to Je-Ann Jones-Ellis, 36 years old of Old Montrose, when she appeared before the Serious Offences Court yesterday.

The charges stemmed from three sums, namely, $210, $14,310, and $13,915, which were taken from the book loan scheme of the school in the years 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Jones-Ellis was assigned as the person responsible for the operation and functioning of the book loan scheme since 2015. The defendant pleaded guilty to, between October 3 and 11, 2016, taking the sum of $210, and in 2017, taking the sum $14,310 between January 10 and November 6. Lastly, between June 8 and September 7, in the year 2018, $13, 915 was taken.

The deputy principal at the school was apparently the first person to notice something was amiss, and he passed on the matter of the irregularities to the Audit Department. The Audit Department then confirmed this, and a report was made to the police.

Teacher steals EC$28,435 from SMSS book loan scheme
Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias

During their investigations, the defendant, who had been a teacher at the school since 2013, had been picked up for questioning. During this time, she admitted to the offences.

Jones-Ellis said that she has a severe medical condition which she had been dealing with for years. She was not represented by a lawyer yesterday, and in her own mitigation she presented documents to show what she had been contending with the illness over the years.

The educator apparently became emotional before Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias, who noted that the disease was potentially life threatening.

Jones-Ellis was said to have used all the money towards paying the medical bills, and police found no money in her house when it was searched. The defendant is reported to have said that she would have to travel for treatment.

The Chief Magistrate made an order of compensation for the amounts that were stolen. In the case of the $210, this was to be paid forthwith, with default of a week imprisonment. For the sums $14,310, and $13, 915, they are to be paid by July 31, 2019, in default of which 10 months and nine months imprisonment were ordered respectively.