Chief Justice alarmed at crime targeting Chinese
Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava'asu'e Falefatu Sapolu, has expressed concern at the rise in crime targeting Chinese nationals in Samoa.
The concerns were raised when Esau Mikaele Esau of Toamua and Leone, appeared before the Supreme Court for sentencing on the charges of burglary and theft.
According to the prosecution’s summary of facts, the accused entered the house of the complainant while it was locked and stole $155.
The accused is an 18-year-old male of Leone, is single and currently unemployed. The pre-sentence report states that the accused finished school at Year 8 and was then employed by a Chinese building construction company for some time before he decided to stay home.
His Honour Patu noted the accused told the probation service— as shown from his pre-sentence report—that he was at a house at Lotopa with two of his friends, who pressured him into burgling the house next door belonging to a Chinese national.
“They then went to that house, pulled back the sliding door and took money from inside the house. Part of the money was given to one of the accused’s friends and the rest of the money was used by the accused to buy food and cigarettes. A few days later, the accused was apprehended by the police.”
Esau informed the probation service that he is remorseful for his actions and hopes for a second chance from the Court.
During sentencing, it was also revealed that the defendant is remanded in custody on another charge of causing damage to a motor vehicle.
On the aggravating features relating to the offending, the Chief Justice noted the home invasion, burglary and theft of the house of a foreigner, namely a Chinese national.
“Criminal offences which involve Chinese nationals as victims has been at an alarming increase in the recent past, particularly burglary and theft. But there have also been other kinds of offences.
“This is becoming of serious concern that soon the Courts are going to impose heavy sentences if this trend does not cease.
“The Chinese are contributing in a significant and substantial way to the development of Samoa, but people like the accused with their actions are likely to undermine the good relationship that the rest of Samoa has with the Chinese,” said His Honour Patu.
He emphasised that the continuing rise in the level of criminal offending against Chinese nationals in Samoa is a concern to the Court.
“Not only does this involve burglary and theft but also the use of violence in such cases. I have been giving serious consideration whether to impose a term of imprisonment in this case to serve as a deterrent not only to the accused but others of like mind.
“However, given the mitigating features and the relatively small amount of money involved, I have decided to give priority to the rehabilitation requirements of sentencing. But the accused should be warned that if he appears again in the future on similar circumstances, then he is likely to go to prison,” the Chief Justice added.
The accused was then convicted and sentenced to 10 months supervision and ordered to perform 40 hours of community work as directed by the probation service.