Three Brazilian women started sobbing in Queenstown’s court yesterday when told they would escape conviction for stealing groceries from their employer.
Gabriela Guinsani Pereira, 27, of Fernhill, Mariana De Oliveira Chedid, 27, psychologist, of Queenstown, and Ana Barbara Brito Dos Santos Monte Fernand, 31, shop assistant, of Queenstown, were charged over thefts from Alpine Supermarket between January 24 and March 9.
All three sought discharges through their separate lawyers on grounds the consequences of a conviction would outweigh the gravity of their offending.
Judge Nevin Dawson said they were ”very foolish young ladies”.
They were all employed at the supermarket and ”succumbed” to peer pressure from other staff who had been applying discounts or not scanning items when colleagues made grocery purchases from the supermarket.
Pereira and Fernand were checkout operators, while Chedid had been aware she was not charged the full amount for groceries but made no attempt to pay the outstanding amounts.
Dawson said the women’s explanation was that it was a ”normal” practice, it had been going on for a ”long time” and many other staff did the same.
”It appears a bad culture had developed at the supermarket … rather than finding that you have all colluded in this activity, you have come to this supermarket where it had been happening and you have gone along with it due to peer pressure and expectations.
”You succumbed to that peer pressure and you did so wrongly.
”Once you started … it [became] much harder to stop.
”You made very foolish errors of judgement which have put all of your careers in jeopardy.”
Chedid was a registered psychologist with plans to travel overseas to obtain her masters degree, while Pereira had a degree in administration in Brazil and wanted to travel overseas to obtain a business degree.
Fernand hoped to obtain work in the hospitality industry.
Along with making them all liable for deportation, convictions were likely to jeopardise their future study plans and employment opportunities.
Dawson said he was persuaded the women were ”otherwise very good people” but they allowed themselves to be ”involved in other people’s bad behaviour”.
”It was a bad lapse in judgement by each of you in joining in what was seen [as] the normal thing to do.”
Chedid was ordered to pay $145.60 reparation, while Fernand was ordered to pay $16.95 reparation.
Both were ordered to pay $500 each for emotional harm, the payments to be made immediately.
Pereira was ordered to pay $76.87 reparation and make a $400 emotional harm payment by August 31.
Matthew Colin Huffadine, 34, builder, of Kelvin Heights, intimidated a woman, between December 1 and 19, at Queenstown, 2016, 12 months’ supervision with a special condition to undertake courses and programmes as required to the satisfaction of a probation officer.