A 47-year-old man has been jailed for nine years for raping his niece
The decision against Tuiatua Saua Sione who was convicted for rape was handed down by Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren in Supreme Court.
The name of the victim has been withheld due to a suppression order but the order does not cover the defendant. The incident occurred 15 years ago.
The National Prosecution Office was represented by lawyer, Fuifui Ioane while Leota Tima Leavai appeared on behalf of the defendant.
Defense counsel Ms Leavai pleaded for the court’s leniency for a light penalty for her client.
She said that her client is very remorseful, he was very young, reckless and heavily intoxicated at the time.
But that did not persuade Justice Tafaoimalo.
“It is never a mitigating factor that the accused was intoxicated at the time of offending,” she said. “The younger the victim, the higher the need for their protection.”
The incident happened when the accused was 29 years of age while the victim was 13 years old.
And between the 31st August and 01st October 1997 during the Teuila Festival the victim was living with her grandparents together with the defendant but in different houses.
During the time of the offence the victim’s grandparents left for a cricket tournament and left the victim and her siblings under the supervision of the accused.
But at night when the victim and her siblings were sleeping the defendant entered the house and raped the victim while sleeping.
The victim fainted and only woke up when her younger siblings woke her up to get ready for school in the early hours of the morning. When she woke up she was unable to move and she was also bleeding, she could not walk and she remained in the same position for hours until she could move again. She missed school.
Later the victim fell pregnant. One of her aunties noticed it and she helped her abort the baby.
Some of her family members found out about what had happened but remained silent to protect the integrity of the family.
However, following a dispute between the uncles and the defendant, the matter was reported to the Police.
The accused’s wife remains supportive of her husband.
Among the character references provided for the accused was from the mayor of the village, the Member of Parliament and a Bishop.
According to the mayor’s letter he confirmed to the court that the defendant already paid a fine of $500 and two cattle beasts.
But Justice Tafaoimalo said the village is not the victim in this matter.
The victim’s father who is the older brother of the defendant was also present in Court, and he said the matter has already been resolved in their family.
“I have forgotten about this matter,” he said.
Justice Tafaoimalo took into account that the accused had already reconciled with his family.
Tuiatua told the probation office that he is remorseful about what had happened, but he was intoxicated when he returned home and was attracted to the victim because she was sleeping naked.
Probation office recommended a custodial penalty is more appropriate for the defendant and that was taken into consideration by the court.
Prosecution asked for 16 years as a starting point however defense counsel asked for 12 years.
Justice Tafaoimalo informed the accused that there are aggravating factors in this matter and it is important for him to know about it.
“Young persons are more vulnerable and the law provides them with greater protection.”
She said the age differences between the accused and the victim as the accused is closely related to the victim as well.
Another aggravating factor is that the victim was placed under his care and he took advantage of that power.
“The breach of trust is significant.”