Former Data Clerk at the state-owned National Insurance Scheme (NIS), Raymond Beggs, who was ordered to serve a two-year and one-month prison term in July 2017, after pleading guilty to one count of Defrauding his employer of EC$163,207.85, was last week Thursday granted $100, 000 bail with two sureties, pending his appeal.
A panel of Court of Appeal Judges comprising Justices Kelvin Baptiste, Louise Blenman, Gretel Thom, Paul Webster and Mario Michel granted bail to the prisoner, following a successful application on his behalf by legal counsel, Attorney-at-Law, George Prime.
According to the former Magistrate, the matter involving Beggs is “not yet ripe” to be heard before the appellate court, because “the transcripts (from the High Court proceedings) are not ready.”
“We took a view that if this matter is to be ventilated before the court as it should, then Beggs would have served his time (2-year and 1-month sentence), before the appeal is heard. This is considered in law, as a special circumstance, warranting putting the man out on bail,” Prime told THE NEW TODAY on Monday – following the October 15-19 sitting of the Court of Appeal.
Prime said that his client would have already served his time, if the prison took time already served into consideration since he had already served 59 days on remand in custody which should have be tabulated as part of the sentence.
“So now, he is out on bail but if they work it in (the 59 days spent on remand), then he wouldn’t have to go back (to prison)”, he said.
“If it is not worked in then he may have to go back when the time comes for the appeal”, he added.
Apart from the prison term, which was handed down to Beggs at the St George’s No. 2 High Court by High Court Judge, Madam Justice Paula Gilford, on July 24, 2017, he was also ordered to repay the EC$163, 207.85 back to the NIS by monthly installments of EC$3, 300, when he comes out of prison.
Attorney Prime is also appealing against this aspect of Beggs’ sentence by challenging its “effectiveness” and deeming it as being “excessive.”
Beggs, who is from Byelands, St. Andrew but resided at Paraclete, St. Andrew, was 32 years old when the sentence was handed down on him.
He was arrested by members of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in January 2013 on 23 fraud-related charges, which alleged that he used other people’s accounts to fraudulently make claims to the NIS, amounting to EC$163,207.85.
The former NIS employee claimed that the monies were used to offset some serious debts he had incurred, such as an accident in which he was involved and was in the wrong.
He claimed he had to repair the other person’s vehicle at a cost $20,000.00.
However, he couldn’t give reliable account of how the rest of the monies were used and claimed that he had not purchased anything else.
Beggs had served as a clerk at NIS and had worked in different departments there over a 10 year period before committing the offences between 2008 and 2012.
The maximum penalty for such a crime is five years in prison.