A 45-year-old bank employee in Tongatapu who stole TP$3000 from a customer has been given a two year suspended sentence.
Judge Laki Niu, however, imposed community work and the convict was sentenced to 60 hours.
The Supreme Court judge found ‘Ofa Savieti guilty of committing forgery and using forged document, on July 12.
Savieti must not commit any further offences during the period of her suspension sentence.
The court was told Savieti withdrew the $3,000 from the customer’s account on 2 February 2018 after she forged his signature on a withdrawal slip.
She forged his signature again on a deposit slip and had the money deposited into an account of an organisation in which Savieti was the treasurer and a signatory. She then withdrew the $3,000 and used it for her own personal purpose.
Mr Niu said Savieti had the $3,000 repaid although he did not receive the receipt for that payment which was ordered to be filed in Court by Friday 21 June 2019.
“Accepting that you have repaid the money you took and that you have pleaded guilty when you were arraigned, I consider that the appropriate sentence for you is 2 years, as was in the Hausia case,” Mr Niu said.
The court was told the customer was a fruit picker in Australia before he came to the bank with a cheque of about AUD$6,000.
Judge Niu said: “Already on that day you were already- contemplating to use that customer’s money or part of it for yourself because you told the customer that even though the amount of the money was already entered into his account, the cheque needed to be cleared from Australia and that it would take 6 weeks for that to happen.”
The judge said Savieti lied to the customer.
“The money was already in the account because you took $3,000 from it on 2 February 2018, just a week later. But you told him that lie so that he would not need to check his account for some 6 weeks when you would have paid back the $3,000 by then.”
He described the former bank employee’s action as “despicable.”
Considering her suspension sentence Mr Niu said Savieti was a first time criminal convict and she was unlikely to reoffend in future.
She was remorseful by pleading guilty to what she has done, the judge said.