PORT OF SPAIN – Confronted with this secretly filmed footage that caught him in the act, police officer Brian Stephens pleaded guilty to three counts of misbehaviour in public office on Thursday.
The recording was made with a cell phone camera during a sting operation at the ANR Robinson International Airport, Tobago as part on an investigation to figure out who was pilfering from the luggage of passengers headed home to Europe after vacationing on the island.
It led to Stephens being charged with committing the acts on three occasions in October 2008, after he was recorded opening and searching the suitcases lodged in the baggage room of the airport and stealing items including clothing, cameras and perfume.
The case ended in the Port of Spain High Court before Justice Gillian Lucky who ordered that he pay $150,000, or go to prison.
Justice Lucky said Stephens, of Baja Road, Maracas, St Joseph, had breached the trust that was placed in him and used his position of authority for self gain.
She said some may perceive the non-custodial sentence as a lenient one given the prevalence and seriousness of such crimes, but she pointed out that Stephens, now that he has a criminal conviction against his name, can no longer be a member of the Police Service and has also lost all his benefits as a member of the service.
The investigation that led to Stephens’ arrest began when British tourists vacationing in Tobago, upon their return to Gatwick in the United Kingdom, discovered items missing from their luggage. Reports were made and an investigation headed by Snr Supt Totaram Dookie was launched.
Stephens, who was represented by defence attorney Larry Williams, was ordered to pay $50,000 immediately and monthly instalments of $5,000 until the remainder of the fine is fully paid. In addition to that, he was also made to sign a bond in the sum of $50,000 to keep the peace for five years.