Convict pleads guilty to sex attack, jailed three years
A prisoner who attempted to rape a Norwegian woman who was making her way back down from the Robert Louis Stevenson tomb atop Mt. Vaea will have to serve three more years at Tafa’igata Prison.
Daniel Vailopa was sentenced by Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren on Friday. The defendant was represented by Alalatoa Rosella Viane-Papalii while Fuifui Ioane was the prosecutor.
The defendant was found guilty of attempted sexual violation and theft in relation to an incident back in 2015. The woman, whose name is suppressed, was working for the United Nations Development Programme office at Matautu. In sentencing, Justice Tafaomalo said the ordeal was violent and terrifying in nature for the victim.
“This offending on the victim who is a foreigner also has a negative impact on the image of Samoa as a country to visit,” she said.
“Now in the case of the accused his previous conviction shows total disrespect and disregard for the law.”
The Judge said there is no question an imprisonment penalty is called for.
“You live a life of crime which has land you in prison so many times,” she said.
“There must be times where you want to live as a free man and enjoy being in society however that will never happen as long as you offend and hurt others."
“The court will not hesitate to send you back to prison to protect the community from you. The choice as to the life you want is yours alone to make.”
According to the Police Summary of facts, the incident occurred on 31 August 2015 between 9 and 10am.
The defendant and three fellow prisoners had escaped from prison and stayed at an abandoned house at Mt. Vaea.
When the woman went for her routine hike, she was confronted by Vailopa on her way back down.
The victim initially walked past the defendant but he chased after her and grabbed her hand. He touched her waist and attempted to kiss the woman, who continued to resist him.
The victim struggled with the defendant while he attempted to remove her pants. During the struggle, the woman’s phone slipped out.
This caught the prisoner’s attention and it made him let go of her hand as he became interested in the phone. She ran from the prisoner and screamed for help. She reported the matter to the Police.
During her final submission, Alalatoa asked for mercy.
“Daniel Vailopa who is here for sentencing on the charges of attempted sexual assault with the intention to rape as well as another charge to do with theft or taking the mobile of the victim,” said Ms. Papalii.
“To both charges the defendant has pleaded guilty and I do confirm with the prosecution that, that is perhaps the only mitigating factors in this paper."
“In saying that however, we are at large plea for the court’s mercy on Daniel and we are aware that he has quite an impressive record of previous conviction."
“Ever since he was 15 he committed his first offense and that was to do with possession of narcotics back in 2004."
“Following that he had other convictions so from a very young age 15 such a tender age when young youths such as himself should be in school or be happy he went downhill at such an early age.
“And we respectfully submit your honor that once he had a taste of imprisonment at the age of 15 everything went downhill for him from there on.”
Ms. Papalii went on to say that her submission is not trying to justify Mr. Vailopa’s action but rather asking the Court for leniency.
“According to Daniel on the day of the offending the day that he had escape from prison like two days earlier and they were scrambling around for food,” she said.
“So when the opportunity presents itself they were walking down from Mount Vaea when the victim went passed. He saw that the victim had her phone attached on the side of her tummy on her waist and earphones plugged to her ears.
“He saw this as an opportunity to steal the cell phone so they can “kulei” it for some money to buy food.
“Unfortunately that didn’t go according to plan because it wasn’t easy for him to get the phone and every other action that he carried out to obtain the phone which came across to the victim as an attempt to sexually force her to force her to have sex with him.”
She concluded: “Please don’t throw away the key but please give him some sort of light so that he can see the end of the tunnel after all these that he is going through.”