A 21-year-old man has been given a 12-month suspended sentence and a $300 Court fine for having sex with a minor.
Brandon Johnny Hall was recently sentence by Supreme Court Justice Vaepule Vaemoa Vaai. This decision was arrived at after the judge considered the submissions of the prosecution and the counsel representing the defendant.
Tosimae’a Tupua of Wallwork Lamb Lawyers, who represented the defendant, submitted that his client disputed parts of the police summary of facts, which alleged the defendant asked the victim to remove her clothes, and the victim complied with the defendant also removing his clothes.
“It is the defendant’s contention that when they arrived at the back of the church after they left the bingo, the victim started removing her clothes and then asked the defendant to have sexual intercourse with her. The defendant then spread his ie lavalava on the ground,” Mr Tupua submitted.
“He only found out about the victim’s age during a brief conversation after they had sexual intercourse, when she told him that she was turning 16 years old in a month’s time. It was only then that the defendant realized that she was under 16 years old.”
The counsel further submitted that it was the victim who instigated the first meeting with the defendant at the village pool and then later at the church fundraising bingo.
“The victim also asked the defendant to go with her to talk behind the church where no one could see them. We respectfully submitted that the victim not only consented, she also initiated the encounter. This matter would never have come to light if the family of the victim’s friends had not reported it the Samoa Victim Support Group.”
Mr Tupua argued that the circumstances of the case are such that it would be appropriate for the court to exercise its decision and discharge the defendant without conviction, as the gravity of the offending is at the lower end of the scale given it was consensual sex, the defendant only had sex with the victim once and there was no violence involved.
The defendant also expressed remorse, accepted that it is wrong to have sex with a girl under the age of 16 and pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity.
The defendant was 20-years-old at the time of the offence and the victim was 15 years of age. The prosecution was represented by Vei Fa’asi’i from the Office of the Attorney General.