In Court with Assumpta Buchanan - Solomon Star News

In Court with Assumpta Buchanan

31 October 2019
  • Diversion case back into court today
  • Accused to bid ‘no case to answer’
  • Sentence next for officer

Diversion case back into court today

THE case of former employee of the B-Mobile company who diverted $19,600 of company funds for her own use will return to court today.

That is when Principal Magistrate Fatima Taeburi will make a decision as to whether or not to send the matter of Angela Riqeo to High Court for sentencing.

Riqeo had pleaded guilty to three counts of conversion, one count of forgery and one count of uttering.

Her matter came to the Honiara Magistrates’ Court this week for the purpose of sentencing submissions.

However, the case was further adjourned after prosecution raised the issue of jurisdiction.

Police Prosecutor John Palmer said the offences of uttering and forgery carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and this matter should be sent to the High Court for sentence.

In light of this issue, Taeburi said she will inquire into the sentencing tariffs that were set down by the Magistrates’ Court for these offences.

She will then make a decision today as to whether this matter will be sentenced in the Honiara Magistrate’s Court or sent to the High Court for sentence.

Riqeo committed the offences on different dates between 23 March 2016 and 17 May 2016.

That was when she was working as an Accounts Payable Officer for the B-Mobile company.

The total amount of money she took from the company was $19,600.

Those monies were issued in a form of cheques to the company’s clients and for purposes of market fee and for security payments for all company sites around the provinces.

She even altered one of the cheques where she added $3,000 onto the original cheque voucher and then used that $3,000 for her own purpose.

Sometime later after the incidents, the company received complaints from its clients about their payments.

The company conducted an audit following the complaints and found that the accused used $19,600 for her own purpose.

A suspension letter was then issued to the accused and on 21 May 2016, the accused wrote an apology letter to the Chief Executive Officer and that she can sort out the matter with them.

Following that letter, an agreement was made between the accused and the company for the accused to reimburse the money no later than 28 June 2016.

The accused however, failed to adhere to the agreement and the company reported the matter to the police.

Rodney Manebosa of Public Solicitor’s Office represents Riqeo while Police Prosecutor John Palmer is prosecuting.


Accused to bid ‘no case to answer’


A ‘NO case to answer’ submission will be made in court today for the former Agriculture officer accused of misusing part of a million dollar funding intended for an Oil Palm project in Malaita.

Lino Houmaha is standing trial for one count of official corruption.

His trial had started early this month before Deputy Chief Magistrate Ricky Iomea.

Prosecution had already closed its case and it is now time for the defence case, on which the defence chose to make a no case to answer submission.

Houmaha was accused of misusing funds intended for the Waisisi Wairokai Oil Palm project in Arearea between 2012 and 2017, totalling up to $4million.

At the time of the alleged offending, Houmaha was the project accountant for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL).

Prosecution alleged Houmaha also attempted to bribe an internal auditor of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury (MoFT) on 3 July 2018 at the MoFT building with $5,000 on 2 June 2018.

This was after the accused was contacted by a team from MoFT as part of their commencement of Internal Audit into the missing funds.

Martin Haurii of Voice Barristers and Solicitors represents Houmaha while Public Prosecutor John Wesley Zoze is appearing for the Crown.


Sentence next for officer

THE police officer who confessed to crashing the police vehicle at the Ranadi Roundabout, East Honiara, in August will be sentenced today.

This followed the sentencing submission and mitigation made on the case of Joseph Papua yesterday in the Honiara Magistrates’ Court.

After hearing the submissions from both counsels, Magistrate Ishmael Kekou adjourned the matter to this morning for sentence.

Papua, 45, pleaded guilty to one count of reckless and careless driving.

This is in relation to the incident between 7 am and 7:30 am on 20 August this year at the Ranadi when Papua was driving a police vehicle.

Papua was on annual leave and has no authority to drive the vehicle but that morning he took the vehicle to drop off two night-shift officers.

When they reached the Marine School area at Ranadi, Papua was said to have increased acceleration and travelled at a very speed with the knowledge that a sports car was driving in front and the roundabout is only a short distance away.

At the roundabout, Papua tried to miss the sports car but instead runs off the road, onto the left pedestrian walkway at Telekom junction.

The vehicle uprooted two cement boulders before breaking through the Telekom company fence, tilted and laid on its left side.

Two boys standing under the billboard next to the roundabout luckily escaped from being hit by the vehicle.

One of the two police officers who was in the vehicle sustained minor injuries to his back bone, elbow and back of his head.

Public Solicitor’s lawyer Michael Fagani is representing Papua while Public Prosecutor Steward Tonowane is appearing for the Crown.