Stolen bottle of alcohol earns court cleaner a conviction and fine and puts her job in jeopardy; staff do not want her back

The cleaner accused of stealing a bottle of alcohol from the courtroom of Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh has been convicted and ordered to pay restitution for the item.

The woman, Noreen Williams of All Saints, was taken into custody on Tuesday, January 31, and was later arrested, charged, and granted station bail.

She appeared in the St. John’s Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, February 1, charged with larceny, to which she pleaded guilty.  After the charge was read to her, Williams reportedly paused before admitting guilt.

Chief Magistrate Walsh made an order for the woman to pay the value of the bottle of alcohol, which, on falling from her clothing had been broken.  (Reportedly, the bottle of rum cost just over $10.) The alternative sentence was one month in prison.

A letter from the Court and Williams’ conviction record were reportedly sent to the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.  Accordingly, the convicted cleaner was directed to report to the Ministry, where the permanent secretary will decide on her employment status.

Reports are that Chief Magistrate Walsh and the staff do not want her back at the court, since items have been going missing over the past several months.  Further, a source claims the staff is threatening to take strike action if the cleaner is sent back there.

Williams reportedly removed a bottle of rum from a courtroom during the course of her duties on Tuesday, January 31.  The alcohol was an exhibit in a case that was heard the day before – in which a man was fined $100 for stealing it from a supermarket.

The bottle was to be handed over to the investigator the following day for return to the business place, in keeping with a restitution order.

However, while the woman was cleaning, the bottle fell from her clothing, hit the floor in the lobby area, and shattered into pieces.

When Williams was questioned about the incident she said she had brought the rum from home. However, she later changed her story and admitted she had removed it from the courtroom, adding she had intended to take it back.