Senior Magistrate Archie Warner handed down a sentence of six months in prison to a Trinidadian man convicted of fraud, but suspended that custodial sentence for 24 months.
Sentence was passed on Joel Balfour, a 42 year-old who said that he was working in Bermuda as an IT engineer, and who had been convicted, by his own admission, of defrauding a Jamaican Guest Worker of $14,346.
The fraud had occurred as a result of Balfour representing to the Jamaican worker that he could arrange or expedite a Canadian immigration visa for him; and the funds had been willingly paid over.
The Crown had recommended a sentence between 9 and 12 months. However Magistrate Warner pointed out that this offence was in the nature of a scam. That like all scams, it required the willing participation of the victim who, even though he was the final victim, was still seeking to gain an advantage by going outside the usual channels or using a backdoor route. The Magistrate also took into account that Balfour was able to repay $13,000 dollars and had a clean record in Bermuda.
The Magistrate’s ruling was that the sentence was six months in prison suspended for 24 months. In addition, Balfour was to repay the $13,000 immediately and the remaining $1,346 was to be repaid within 90 days.
The Magistrate noted that the Department of Immigration might take certain courses of action, but that he had no power to take any further or other action.Asked how he had been living since his first court appearance on this matter in April 2012, Balfour told the Magistrate that he had been doing ‘voluntary’ work.
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