Justice Mata Tuatagaloa did not mince words yesterday when she jailed a 51-year-old father for 11 months for indecently assaulting and betraying his stepdaughter.
“Your behaviour towards your stepdaughter is unacceptable and can be considered very dangerous especially if you have a younger daughter with your wife,” Justice Tuatagaloa said.
“You breached her trust because you are the stepfather of the victim and you also violated your duty as a father who is expected to provide security for her.”
Justice Tuatagaloa made the comments during the sentencing of a father whose name is withheld to protect the identity of the victim.
The Court found that the offending was premeditated because the accused man committed them at night when everyone in the family was sleeping - including the victim.
“It was not a one-off offence but it was three times,” said Justice Tuatagaloa. “Your actions affected the victim’s studies in school.”
The defendant was represented by lawyer Leota Tima Leavai while lawyer, Lucy Sio appeared on behalf of the National Prosecution Office.
Prior to sentencing, Leota asked the Court for leniency. She said her client is a first time offender and is remorseful about what he has done. He is a breadwinner for his family and his character referees speak very highly of him.
According to the Police summary of facts, the offending took place on three different occasions, May 2013, March 2014 and June 2014.
The victim at the time was 16-years-old.
The accused was living with his wife and the victim at his wife’s family.
The first offence took place before the defendants’ wife passed away. He continued even after she died.
But the offending only came to light when the victim told one of her aunties and she reported it to the Police.
The man pleaded guilty to all the charges.
In sentencing, Justice Tuatagaloa said the man’s behaviour is unacceptable and a custodial sentence was necessary.
She added that indecent assaults as well as other sexual assaults have become very prevalent among families in the community.
In telling off the father, Justice Tuatagaloa said he not only abused a position of trust, the girl was vulnerable given her age and the time which the offending took place.
Justice Tuatagaloa only took the defendant’s early guilty plea and the fact he is a first time offender as mitigating factors.
“The prosecution recommended two years as a starting point but I will take 18 months as a starting point,” said Justice Tuatagaloa.
She deducted seven months for all mitigating factors, sending the father to jail for 11months.