5 June 2014
L of a farce as taxpayer faces £3,000 translation bill over theft of 10p carrier bags
Taxpayers have been left with a £3,000 bill when a Lithuanian was prosecuted for stealing two plastic bags worth 10p each - and a Latvian speaker was sent to translate for him.
Tadas Tarkutis, 26, was arrested after he swiped the two ‘bags for life’ from Sainsbury’s in Scarborough. Officers found a Lithuanian translator who made a 120-mile round trip from Harrogate, to spend around four hours with him in custody.
But the same translator was not available when Tarkutis appeared in court the following morning and a Latvian speaker was mistakenly summoned from the outsourcing firm Capita.
The woman set off from Rugby in the Midlands, only to find she had made a wasted six-hour, 320-mile round trip when she arrived at the magistrates court in Scarborough.
With no-one able to speak for him, Tarkutis was remanded in custody and returned to the court the following day.
This time a Lithuanian translator was correctly supplied by Capita and after all the cost and confusion the thief admitted the petty crime.
Tarkutis, from Birmingham, was jailed for six weeks because he was in breach of a suspended sentence. But he was not ordered to pay any court costs.
One court source said: “It was as if someone somewhere had just picked out a country that begins with ‘L’. It was ridiculous.”
Andy Silvester of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Criminals must always be brought to justice, but this seems a remarkable amount of taxpayers’ money to spend on a rather minor case.
“Ordinary people rightly expect justice, but they don’t expect it to cost over the odds.
“Avoidable errors have only put the cost up more.”
The Crown Prosecution Service said the court’s decision to jail Tarkutis validated the decision to bring the case to court.
Capita, who describe themselves as a translation company “you can rely on”, has not yet commented.