“…It was a good sentence”.
Those were the words uttered by leading defense attorney, Anslem Clouden after a high court judge on Tuesday handed down a three-year suspended jail sentence on Roger Lewis, the operator of Sea Port restaurant and bar on the Lagoon Road who was facing a possible 15-year jail term for forgery in connection with the will of his deceased father, Allan Lewis.
Madam Justice Paula Gilford handed down the sentence amid joy and jubilation from close family members including brothers of Roger who had previously expressed a desire to see him go to prison for the crime that was committed.
Lewis stood before the female high court judge at the Number 1 High Court to hear his sentence after a jury in February had found him guilty of Fraud, Uttering and Obtaining property in an illegal manner.
Although all three charges are punishable with up to 15 years in prison each, the judge decided to give Lewis time to redeem himself among his siblings by September but if in default, he can face up to three years for all charges to run concurrently.
Under the terms of the ruling, Lewis will have to turn over the properties to the estate to an administrator to be appointed by the court, as well as give quarterly accounting reports to the court on the administration of those businesses which he will continue to operate.
As part of the judgement, the judge said that the Administrator to be appointed will distribute the property to those who are beneficiary to the estate left behind by Allan Lewis.
An elated Clouden who was happy that his client did not end up with a prison sentence told reporters gathered outside the court room that it was “a fair sentence”.
“What we have is a suspended sentence that he (Roger) has to do certain things with respect to the estate within certain time periods, in default of doing those things he would be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which is three years on each matter to run concurrently until what he is ordered to do is done, if it is not done he is in default, he spends three years”, he said.
“…It was a good sentence, you see the rarity of this offence, and this was the first offence of this kind (to go before judge and jury).
These matters are usually settled civilly and not criminally – it was unfortunate that they have come criminally. It is a just sentence because there was no cost to anyone, everybody would get what they are entitled to get (from the estate)… so no one has lost anything, so therefore the sentence was fair,” he added.
During the sentencing, several witness testimonies were given and read out all exemplifying Lewis to be a man of good character.
The witnesses, including some of the brothers asked the judge to be lenient in handing down sentence and to avoid giving him a prison term.
Although the case was brought before the court due to the displeasure of some of the brothers of Lewis over his handling of the late father’s estate, they all expressed joy after hearing the sentence.
Many members of the family members embraced Roger as he was given a second chance to do what is right in the sight of his siblings.
Investigations into the Allan Lewis estate began in 2012 where Roger was accused of defrauding his siblings by forging the Will of his father.
The so-called Will gave Roger complete ownership to the multi-million dollar estate left behind by Allan Lewis.
When the Will was probated, one of the brothers approached a witness who had signed onto the document and the elderly man from St. David’s denied knowing anything about the Will.
The man believed to be in his 80’s told the brother that Roger had asked him to sign a document to get GRENLEC to put electricity in his house and he obliged but he did not sign anything pertaining to his father’s estate.
Armed with this information, the brother decided to take the matter to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) to be investigated.