An uncle who has been convicted of sexual offenses against his sister’s children – including rape - has been jailed for 13 years.
The sentence was handed down by Supreme Court Justice, Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren, yesterday afternoon.
Sex offender, Tusi Gata, of Solosolo and Vailele, was represented by lawyer, Afamasaga Michael So’onalole. The prosecutor was Anne Matalasi of the Attorney General’s Office.
Justice Tafaoimalo ordered that names of the three victims are permanently supressed. The order does not apply to the defendant.
The offending involved girls aged 14, 12 and a 9-year-old boy.
The 14-year-old is the victim of rape and two sexual connection offences, while the nine-year-old boy is the victim of sexual conduct.
The 12-year-old girl is the victim of one sexual connection.
All victims are the children of the accused’s sister.
Gata pleaded guilty to all charges. The pre-sentence report says Gata, who is 19 years old, comes from an unhealthy family environment.
“His family environment is somewhat dysfunctional in that his mother has started a relationship with the brother of the father of the victims, or her son in law’s brother.
“The accused says that he has been visited at Tafaigata by his sister and brother in law, the parents of the victims. He is a first offender.
“The accused has maintained his innocence to Probation but has apologised to his sister and her husband, the parents of the victims.”
Regarding the victims, Justice Tafaoimalo points out that from the victim impact report “the rape victim, she was scared when the accused raped her in case he killed her afterwards.
“She is very unhappy that she has been forced to live away from her parents since the offending.
“She misses her parents. Her younger sister, the 11 year old victim of sexual connection says that her vagina felt sore from what the accused did to her.
“She tries not to think of it and has forgotten what has happened.
“The 9 year old victim said he felt pain in his buttocks because of the accused.
“He was scared because the mother of the accused told him not to tell his parents.
“He was worried in case the accused beats him.”
According to Justice Tafaoimalo the aggravating features of this offending are firstly, the gross breach of trust.
“The accused is the uncle of the victims, being their mother’s brother. Instead of protecting the victims, he took advantage of his ability to sleep in the same house as the victims.
“The breach of trust in this case is significant.” Furthermore Justice Tafaoimalo notes the ages of the victims, is another aggravating factor.
“They were 14, 11 and 9 years old at the time the accused committed these offences on them. The accused is related by blood to the victims. It is inexcusable behaviour by the accused towards these young victims.
“The degree of premeditation in the commission of these offences is an aggravating feature.”
Justice Tafaoimalo also notes the psychological impact on the victims is taken into account as an aggravating feature.