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Man found guilty of theft for selling 40-foot container without ownership

Thursday 27 June 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Court, National

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Man found guilty of theft for selling  40-foot container without ownership

A man has been found guilty of theft for selling a 40-foot container to another person.

Tamarua O Iva Browne, represented by defence counsel Lavi Rokoika, had disputed the circumstances under which the container was removed from the complainant’s property.

Justices of the Peace John Whitta, Nadine Newnham and Mata Nooroa delivered their reserved decision at the Criminal Court in Avarua yesterday.

JP Whitta said the complainant had returned to Rarotonga in 2014 and in 2020 used a prefabricated kit to build a home. The defendant arranged to provide this service.

JP Whitta said the service was not remunerated, but Browne asked the complainant if he could utilise the container for a planned café business which was to be jointly owned with the complainant’s brother.

The complainant admitted giving Browne permission for this purpose.

Work was done for the café site, but the Court heard that the joint owner passed away.

JP Whitta said work was cancelled for the café as the complainant was the sole owner of the land.

He said the defendant then sold the container for $4000, which had a resale value of $8000.

The complainant stated it was not a full transfer of ownership but for the use of a café business.

JP Whitta said the complainant did not deny giving permission for Browne to use the container to start a business.

However, JP Whitta clarified that permission granted only possession, not ownership and the complainant stated that it was never a full transfer but for the specific use of a café business

JP Whitta said the court did not believe Browne could have concluded that the container was his to sell. He added the container was given for a specific purpose.

Senior police prosecutor senior sergeant Fairoa Tararo asked for an adjournment stating that reparation on the sale of the container would be sought.

Browne is to be sentenced on August 21 and a probation report was ordered.