Student convicted of drug possession given chance to finish school

A 19-year-old male from Satapuala has been given a second chance to finish his school.

Joe Tomasi, who pleaded guilty to possession of narcotics, was convicted and sentenced to 12 months supervision on Friday. 

Acting Chief Justice, His Honour Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, delivered the sentence for Tomasi and ordered that he should be enrolled and put back in school. 

The teenager, who has a previous conviction, was also ordered to perform 100 hours community work and undergo any programme as directed by the Probation Office. 

According to a summary of facts, Tomasi attended A’ana College at the time of reoffending on 4 February this year. 

The offence occurred at a school library where a student upon instruction from a teacher went through Tomasi’s school bag. 

Students are not allowed to take their cellphones into the library hence the reason behind the school bags being checked. 

However, the student that went through Tomasi’s bag found four branches of marijuana and leaves that weigh 10.5 grams. 

The teacher told the school principal, who later reported the matter to Police.  

On 19 February 2019, Tomasi was taken into custody and had pleaded guilty to the charge on 11 March 2019.  

Two weeks ago when Tomasi appeared before Justice Vui prior to sentencing, he was asked if he had anything to say. 

Tomasi told the Court he was remorseful and did not like what he saw at the Tafaigata prison. 

“I am the only one that my parents depend on and I’m the only male of the family,” he said. 

“Your Honour I ask that you don’t give me a custodial sentence.”

In response, Justice Vui said he should have thought of that before he reoffended. 

Tomasi was previously convicted and sentenced to 12 months supervision and serve 100 hours community work for theft and breaking in. 

He was warned not to reoffend within the 12 months but had done so less than a month after he was sentenced earlier this year.

Justice Vui asked the teenager why he reoffended. 

Tomasi said it was peer pressure. 

He said he found the marijuana in a plastic bag where the matai of the village usually hang out and he had picked it up.  

However, Justice Vui told Tomasi that no one would believe what he is telling the Court. 

At this point, a woman who identified herself as the mother of Tomasi stood up in Court.

“Your Honour please give my son a chance to finish his school and I ask that you consider a monetary fine for his sentence,” said the mother. 

The Acting Chief Justice was not pleased. 

He told the mother that the Court had previously given Tomasi a chance and the parents had a responsibility to supervise their son. 

In response, the mother said it is partly their fault why their son had reoffended. 

Justice Vui told the mother that talk is cheap but their actions need to reflect their words in that he will not reoffend. 

Tomasi was enrolled in Leulumoega College, following the incident at A’ana College where the marijuana was found in his school bag. 

When he was charged for possession of narcotic and offending, his father appeared before the then Chief Justice, His Honour Patu Tiava’asue Falefatu Sapolu. 

The father asked the Court for leniency and forgiveness for his son’s wrong.

“I know my son has now appeared for the second time before your Honour and I beg you to forgive him and give him a chance to continue his school,” said the father. 

“I humbly ask that you record his disobedience for the reason why he is in Court today, but please allow him to finish his school.” 

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