Man jailed 14 years for rape of six year old girl

A man who raped a six-year-old girl last year has been sentenced by the Supreme Court to 14 years and six months imprisonment.

Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala handed down the decision after the defendant was convicted by assessors last month. 

Justice Tafaoimalo issued a suppression order on the victim's identity but that order was not extended to the defendant. 

The defendant appeared for sentencing on one charge of rape, an indecent act on a child and three counts of sexual connection. 

The victim – now eight-years-old - took the stand and recounted the events of the day in question.

“After watching rugby I walked home when I met Pa’a (defendant) who followed me and asked that we go get his money,” she said.

“I followed Pa’a and he told me to remove my clothes and I did, he then left with my clothes and returned empty handed. 

“I don’t know where he placed my clothes. I was lying there naked.”

The young girl then told of the trauma of her sexual assault. 

“I cried and told him to stop,” she said, “but he put his hands over my mouth” said the victim on the stand. 

During sentencing on Friday, Justice Tafaoimalo said the offending was premeditated. 

The defendant targeted the young victim, who was by herself and enticed her into going with him to find his money, and led her to an isolated area where he could be alone with her. 

The victim was extremely vulnerable given her young age of 6-years at that time.

“She was trusting and went along with the defendant which shows that she lacked the understanding at her age to recognise the predicament she was in.

“This vulnerability stems from the fact that she was extremely young and had not attained the maturity to recognise danger and defend herself. 

The defencelessness of the victim in this case is particularly striking,” said the Judge.  

The defendant who is 19-years-old, is single and lives with his parents.  He left school in Year 9 says Justice Tafaoimalo. 

The parents have written in support saying that they do not believe their son would commit this offence. 

There was also letters of support from the defendant’s family Chief, his Bishop and a former employer that the offence is out of character for the defendant.  

The Court took into account the defencelessness of the victim, as an aggravating factor when sentencing a defendant in a case involving violence against a person under the age of 18 years. 

“The extent of the harm to the victim is taken into account. No doubt she would have been terrified, not quite understanding what was happening. 

It was obvious during the giving of her evidence during the hearing that her memories of what happened are still quite vivid.”

This incident will stay with her for the rest of her life and it was a serious violation of the victim’s sexual autonomy. 

“She was a virgin and she was violated in a most cruel way,” said Justice Tafaoimalo. 

“Rape is an inherently violent act, and this case is no exception. The defendant raped the victim, and he then performed vulgar acts on the victim which continued to cause her pain,” said Justice Tafaoimalo. 

Deterrence will be of paramount consideration in the sentencing of Si’ueva, said the Supreme Court Justice. 

Furthermore, Justice Tafaoimalo says that premeditated sexual violation of an extremely young child is unacceptable, and offends all Samoan cultural and societal norms which place children at the fore and centre of Samoan society. 

There is a significant need for deterrence, to deter the offender and to deter other like-minded people from targeting innocent young children who cannot defend themselves and have not yet acquired the maturity to realise and understand what is happening. 

The effects of this offending on the victim will no doubt last a lifetime.

“What happened in this case is something that no six year old child or any child should have to endure. 

Childhood is a time of innocence and this defendant has robbed this child of that innocence.

“The protection of the public, in particular our young children is also an important consideration in today’s sentencing. 

“This is a case of immense public interest for the reason that this victim is a 6-year-old child violated by a complete stranger in a most perturbing way. This indicates a need for awareness around stranger danger in homes and schools,” said Justice Tafaoimalo. 

For the offence of rape, the defendant is convicted and sentenced to 14 years and six months years imprisonment. 

“For each count of sexual connection with a child under 12 years old the defendant is convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

For the indecent act with or on a child pursuant to section 58(3)(6) of the Crimes Act 2013 which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment, the defendant is convicted and discharged.” 

Justice Tafaoimalo also urged the Prisons and Corrections Service to provide the proper and relevant counselling to the rapist while he is in prison in line with the guiding principles of the Prisons and Corrections Act 2013.

Lucymaria Sio-Ofoia was prosecuting for the Attorney General’s Office; Alex Su’a represented Si’ueva.

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