Larceny charge proved

JEREMY Brian Powell walked into Tweed Heads Local Court with his legal team yesterday confident of being proved innocent of larceny%after a not-guilty plea, but will now be investigated for attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Powell, the former head waiter at Amicis restaurant in Kingscliff, was fired in a heated exchange with owner John Slavic about 1.30pm on Mother's Day last year after he turned up for work late -- something the court was told he had done a number of times in the past.

Fellow Amicis workers Jay Lecchi and Khouryn Jenkins both knew Powell had been sacked, so when he arrived back at Amicis about 6pm the same night and started playing with the till, they were both suspicious.

Powell made no secret of the fact he had taken $150. He told Miss Jenkins, left a note in the till and later admitted to police in an interview that he took the cash.

The court heard Mr Slavic had regularly paid his employees cash advances and took the amount out of their next pay if they phoned him and left a note in the till. However Mr Slavic had not given permission to Powell on May 13 and he reported the incident to police.

Magistrate Jeff Linden found Powell guilty of larceny, saying Mr Slavic had not given consent for Powell to have taken the money and it was very unlikely he would have considering the nature of his sacking. He also said Powell had no right to enter the restaurant the way he did after being fired.

Powell's solicitor, Michelle Mustchin of Woodward Laywers, had vigorously objected to letters being shown to Mr Lecchi and Miss Jenkins, saying they had been used in the process of plea bargaining. However, Mr Linden allowed the letters to be shown to both of the witnesses and he accepted them as evidence.

The letters carried forged signatures of Lecchi and Jenkins below their recollections of the events of Mothers Day last year, but both denied they had ever seen the letters, or that they contained the truth.

Lecchie was bemused at the fact his name had been spelt wrong below his falsified signature.

Ms Mustchin pleaded with Mr Linden not to record a conviction for Powell after the offences were proved. Mr Linden said had Powell pleaded guilty to the charge it may have been considered, but considering what he had heard during the trial he recorded convictions against%Powell, fined him $473 and ordered him to pay $150 compensation.

Futhermore Mr Linden also asked police to investigate further charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice because of the forged letters.

Powell is currently in a civil action with Mr Slavic, claiming he had not been paid for all his time at the restaurant.



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