Beer theft charge ruled out

The National,Friday June 17th, 2016

THE Waigani Committal Court has ruled out a case against an East Sepik man alleged to have stolen 107 cartons of beer worth more than K16,000 from Parliament House due to insufficient evidence.
Magistrate Cosmas Bidar said the standard of investigation left a lot to be desired and found it hard to believe that one man could carry away 107 cartons of beer.
Steven Wai, 51, from Angoram, was freed by Bidar of allegations of breaking and entering and stealing because most of the evidence presented was circumstantial and not enough to send him to trial.
Police report said that on Monday, June 8, 2015, a public holiday, Wai, who was a security adviser, sent all the guards away except for one at the private MPs’ Golf Gate to Parliament and one in the control room of the building complex.
The report said Wai went to the back gate of Parliament’s catering section. unscrewed the bar window of the restaurant and removed 107 cartons of beer valued at K16,704 belonging to the National Parliament catering wing.
He allegedly transported them out using a grey vehicle when only one guard was at the Golf Gate between 2pm and 5pm.
Investigations were conducted by police detective Constable Stanley Billy and witness statements and records of interview were obtained.
Bidar told the court that when assessing all evidence by police in the briefs: “All witnesses did not know who was actually involved … nobody saw what happened – whether it occurred in broad daylight, no evidence of whether a cloudy weather or rainy day and everyone stayed indoors.”
Bidar told the court that it was impossible for one man to carry 107 cartons of beer and that an individual could carry about four cartons.
“A lot of beer cartons for one person to carry, it indicates that others may have been involved in stealing and shifting the cartons away,” Bidar said.
Bidar told the court that those were circumstantial evidence and all they (witnesses) saw was the accused driving the vehicle out and coming in.
Bidar told the court that according to the police investigator, no forensic evidences and finger prints were obtained to prove the case.
“No direct evidence from all the witnesses, no one saw what happened,” he said.
Bidar told the court that the “standard of investigation left a lot to be desired”in such a premier institution, which had many security personnel.
The court ruled that evidence was clearly insufficient and discharged the defendant with bail money refunded.