Alexander Johnson v The Commissioner of Police

JurisdictionBahamas
CourtCourt of Appeal
JudgeMr. Justice Isaacs, JA
Judgment Date25 Jun 2020
Neutral CitationBS 2020 CA 62
Docket NumberMCCrApp. No. 193 of 2016

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL

Before:

The Honourable Mr. Justice Isaacs, JA

The Honourable Madam Justice Crane-Scott, JA

The Honourable Mr. Justice Jones, JA

MCCrApp. No. 193 of 2016

Between
Alexander Johnson
Appellant
and
The Commissioner of Police
Respondent
APPEARANCES:

Mr. Anthony Delaney with Mr. Ian Cargill, Counsel for the Appellant

Mr. Vernal Collie with Ms. Kendra Kelly, Counsel for the Respondent

Criminal Appeal — Currency forgery — Stealing by reason of employment — Intent to defraud-Verdict unsafe and satisfactory

In December 2008 the appellant was employed as a cashier by the Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino. The appellant had access to the casino's main bank located in the casino cage. He also had access to cash and the safe where the cash was kept. On the 14 December 2008, video surveillance showed the appellant acting in a strange and unusual manner. Upon further investigation the appellant was found to have in his possession two hundred (200) one hundred ($100) American notes, with the appellant knowing these notes to be forged currency taken from his place of employment. The appellant was convicted on the 29 July 2016, for one count of possession of forged currency and one count of stealing by reason of employment. He was sentenced to thirty-five months' imprisonment. The appellant appealed his convictions on the grounds that the magistrate erred when she convicted the appellant of theft by using the intent to defraud as an element of the offence of theft and that the verdicts are unsafe and unsatisfactory in the circumstances of the case.

Held: Appeal denied. Convictions affirmed.

There is nothing disclosed on the record that would cause any lurking doubt about the safety of the appellant's conviction. There is nothing disclosed that makes the convictions unsatisfactory or the trial itself unfair. There is no merit to the ground that the magistrate erred in convicting the appellant of theft by using intent to defraud as an element of the offence of theft. Thus, there is no need for the Court to insert itself in the sentences imposed by the magistrate.

Mr. Justice Isaacs, JA

Judgment delivered by the Honourable

1

. The appellant was convicted by Stipendiary and Circuit Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans (“the magistrate”) on the 29 July 2016, for one count of possession of forged currency and one count of stealing by reason of employment. He was sentenced to thirty-five months' imprisonment. The record does not indicate if the sentence related to the two counts nor does it say that the sentences were to run concurrently. However, the warrant of conviction states the thirty-five months' sentence was for each count. The appellant appealed his convictions on the grounds that the magistrate erred when she convicted the appellant of theft by using the intent to defraud as an element of the offence of theft and that the verdicts are unsafe and unsatisfactory in the circumstances of the case.

History
2

. The appellant was an employee of the Crystal Palace Casino and at the time of the incident which resulted in his being charged. He held the position of main banker. The job description of the main banker was given in evidence by the prosecution's witnesses, Dave Cargill and Patrice Ferguson. They also provided information surrounding the events of 14 December 2008 and 15 December 2008.

3

. In her decision, the magistrate set out the evidence adduced by the prosecution. Inasmuch as I am satisfied that it accurately reflects the pith and substance of the evidence, I reproduce her decision almost verbatim. In fact, the only challenge by Mr. Delaney to the accuracy of the magistrate's record was the magistrate's characterisation of Special Agent Kyle Dekoski's report that the paper found in the appellant's vehicle was the “same paper used as the counterfeit bills in question”. More will be said on this later.

The Magistrate's Decision
4

. The magistrate wrote, inter alia:

  • “3. Mr. Allen Wolf a US Government Secret Service Federal Law enforcement Officer and an expert witness swore that on the 14 th of December 2008 he received a request to examine some notes. Several US one hundred ($100.00) dollar notes and stated that they all had identical serial numbers which totaled $19,400.00 counterfeit American dollar bills.

  • 4. Samantha Wilkinson Casino Café Manager at Crystal Palace Hotel testified that on the 15 th December, 2008, as a result of a phone call from her supervisor she went to the Crystal Palace Hotel where she saw two bundles of one hundred dollar bills which appeared to be counterfeit.

  • 5. That the said counterfeit notes were located in the main bank in the Casino cage, as a result she informed her boss, the Security Officer and Auditors of the Casino. She further testified that several cashiers worked the bank including Alexander Johnson the defendant, who worked that night, and was replaced by Stevanna Basden. That the person responsible for the keys, who was scheduled to work that time, is the cashier working the swing shift who was Alexander Johnson, the Supervisor and herself.

  • 6. As a result a check was made of the other floats in the cage and found that all cash and floats were original, however between 11:30 and 12 pm a cashier came in for a float for the Sports Book, it was then discovered there were counterfeit bills in that float.

  • 7. The witness further testified that there was also counterfeit money in two other floats. That she immediately called Mr. Johnson and upon his arrival took him to Security investigation Office. That he was asked if he knew where the counterfeit money came from that was found in the main bank. That she then called Human resources and informed them of the situation.

  • 8. The witness also stated that the defendant worked the shift from 7 am to 5 pm, and that he was the last and final person in the cage. That he had prepared three sports book floats. As the main banker he was responsible for entering cash flow and if there was a discrepancy in any float, the supervisor is to be notified.

  • 9. Samantha Wilkinson, having been recalled on the 4th of June 2012, identified the counterfeit notes by the serial numbers and further testified that one of the first things which made her realize the notes were counterfeit was all of them had the same serial number. That she handed the said notes over to Security Supervisor Ms. Major and investigator Samuel Higgs.

  • 10. In cross examination, the witness stated that the cashier at the end of the day with this particular float handed in his documents, the supervisor would then complete the check of the documents and then take the keys from the cashier along with the documents which is the close out sheet. There is no transfer of cash from cashier to supervisor. Cash stays in the main safe, only the documents are handed over.

  • 11. The witness further testified that the cashier working the float is in charge of everything in the safe including chips and cash.

  • 12. On re-examination by prosecutor Claudette McKenzie, the witness stated that after the cashier is done with the main bank and signed off on the close out sheet, the supervisor calls surveillance to inform them that the area is locked down and closed and that the entire cage is secured by security.

  • 13. The witness stated that when the supervisor is at the cage, the casino closes, all business stops and the supervisor is waiting for surveillance to come and close the area.

  • 14. The witness stated that when a cahier would hand over their daily work it depends on the shift when a supervisor will go into the safe, and if it was a lockup shift there is no need for the banker to go into the safe and the lock up shift is 9pm to 5am.

  • 15. Bradley Pratt Investigator Manager at Wyndham Resort gave sworn evidence that as a result of information received from Samuel Higgs concerning counterfeit notes, which he had examined and they appeared to be counterfeit. That he then placed his signature on the said notes and handed them over to a CDU officer.

  • 16. Prosecutions fourth witness Carrington McIntosh testified under oath that in December, 2008 he was the supervisor of the cage, that there were four sports books with four floats of five thousand dollars. That the main bank has two shifts, morning from 10am to 6pm. That one person works the main bank and breaks are available to them. That Alexander Johnson worked the evening shift on the 14 th December, 2008.

  • 17. The witness stated that during that shift he was the supervisor, that he arrived at work at 10: 50 am at which time Samantha Wilkinson handed him a bundle of one hundred dollar bills that did not look real.

  • 18. Mr. McIntosh during cross-examination by Mr. Seymour stated that he knew by the color and the texture of the paper, the money was not real. The witness also stated that he was the supervisor beginning the shift so Ms. Wilkinson gave him the monies.

  • 19. On reexamination the witness further stated that when a cashier collects monies for change or deposit there is a florescent light and certain things are looked for to determine if the money is counterfeit.

  • 20. Dave Cargill, the cage supervisor testified that on the 15th of December, 2008 he was at work, and that checking the cash machine he went to the main bank area to fill the machine, and while there as he then got the cash he noticed strange looking bills, that he called another cashier on the window, Colon Scavella to have a look at the bills and he then call (sic) his manager Ms. Wilkinson.

  • 21. The witness stated that they were US one hundred dollar notes, that during his shift he would have first access to the cage after having received the lock (sic) up keys from security, that it is a company policy when you are leaving work you have to sign in and out.

  • 22. The...

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