Justice Leiataualesa laments “gross breach of trust”
Supreme Court Justice, Lei’ataualesa Darryl Clarke, has condemned the actions by a father convicted of incest with his biological daughter, labeling it as a “gross breach of trust”.
The father and daughter’s identity have been suppressed.
Justice Lei’ataualesa issued an arrest warrant for the pair after they failed to appear for sentencing last Wednesday. When they finally turned up, the matter was rescheduled for sentencing.
According to Justice Leiataualesa, the defendants entered an early guilty plea to the charges before the Court at the earliest opportunity on appointment of counsel and having had the opportunity to take legal advice.
According to the summary of facts, which was accepted by the defendants through counsel, between December 2016 and January 2018, they were sleeping together in the same bed when a male villager came by and noticed that the tarpaulin of the fale was down and saw you both.
“At dawn, a villager came by and woke you both up. That morning, you then engaged in sexual intercourse but were interrupted when the villager came by and he took photos of the sexual intercourse.
“According to your presentence report (P.S.R.), it was not photographs taken by the villager, but it seems a video which was then subsequently circulated within the village.
“From there, the matter was reported to Police.
“The circulation of that video within the village should not have occurred and for those who did so circulate that video, they should be ashamed of that conduct.”
Justice Leiataualesa pointed out they both knew of the biological relationship of father and daughter at the time of the offending.
“It is not disputed that you (the father) initiated the sexual relationship with your daughter.
“You are described in the P.S.R. as begging your daughter to have sexual intercourse with you. In submissions by your counsel, she told the Court that you could not resist your actions,” pointed out Justice Leiataualesa.
The 58-year-old father is a widower with children. He is a first offender and has a very positive report from the probation service together with very positive references from your church and others.
“Your P.S.R. says that you are remorseful and ashamed of your actions. You have been punished by your village, fined $2,000.00, two pigs and two large fine mats between the two of you. You have been banished from the village.”
Regarding the daughter, Justice Leiataualesa noted that from her supplementary pre-sentence report, she’s the eldest of seven children and she was adopted by her maternal grandmother.
“In 2010, at the age of 28, you moved with your grandmother to your father’s village and only then were you told the truth about your parents.
“Despite that, you continued to be and considered yourself the child of your grandmother and your mother’s sister.
“You told the Probation Service that you found the news about your parents difficult given you had lived without a father for over 20 years.”
Justice Leiataualesa noted that when the natural mother passed away, the daughter returned to her father’s village.
“You told the Probation Service that you have been puzzled by your behavior and it would haunt you for the rest of your life.”
The daughter is a single mother of three and according to the Probation Service, despite this matter, she remains highly spoken of within her family and with her religious leaders.
“Similarly, you have been punished by the village with the fine and banished.
You have apologized to the village and your fine was accepted. I accept that you both have suffered significant humiliation, deep remorse and shame from your offending,” said Justice Leiataualesa.
The aggravating features of this matter pertaining to the father, Justice Leiataualesa pointed out his exploitation of your position as father and the vulnerability of his daughter to his actions given that relationship of father and daughter and his gross breach of trust.
Justice Leiataualesa told the father that his level of culpability is significantly higher than that of his daughter.
“You instigated the sexual intercourse and you persisted for it to take place. You are older and abused your position of trust to engage in sexual acts with your daughter who despite being 35 years of age, was nevertheless vulnerable given her circumstances.
“Accordingly, you are convicted and sentenced to one year and six months imprisonment less any time spent in custody.”
The daughter, in Justice Leiataualesa view, is in a sense also a victim.
“Taking into account your personal circumstances including your young children, your positive P.S.R., your deep remorse and shame, the penalties that have already been imposed on you by your village including that of your banishment, a non-custodial sentence will be imposed.
“You are convicted and sentenced to two years supervision on the condition that you carry out 200 hours of community work, you attend such programmes as directed by the Probation Service, and you are to have no contact with your co-defendant during your supervision period,” ordered Justice Leiataualesa.