Passport thief ordered to apologise to P.N.G. team

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 23 August 2019, 6:00PM

A 17-year-old male, who stole more than ten passports from the Papua New Guinea (P.N.G.) team at the Pacific Games Village, has been ordered to write a letter of apology to the team. 

Tele Lemalu was convicted this week for stealing 13 passports from P.N.G. athletes and other valuables including an HP laptop, computer keyboard, two mobile phones a black back pack. 

The total value of the stolen property is $7,451.

The teenager was apprehended before he left the Games Village. The property was returned to the athletes. 

Mr. Lemalu pleaded guilty to one count of burglary. 

Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala – Warren sentenced the defendant to two years' supervision with special conditions. 

Those conditions include writing a letter of apology to the P.N.G. team which probation will send, attend the Youth Development Programme with Samoa Victims Support Group (S.V.S.G.). 

He is also ordered to carry out 300 hours of community service with S.V.S.G. 

Justice Tafaoimalo said if it weren’t for the accused's age she would have imposed a custodial sentence. 

“His offending was calculated and designed to cause a great deal of stress and inconvenience to athletes visiting Samoa; if he had made it outside the gates of the Games Village with all their passports,” he said. 

“He would have known that these passports were of no value to him and would have taken them for the sole reason of stressing the owners of the passports.”

Considering that the defendant has been in custody for a few weeks, the Judge said Mr. Lemalu will be well advised to remember his experience in custody. 

He has also been warned that if he re-offends he will most likely end up in prison.  

According to the summary of facts admitted by Mr. Lemalu, on 9 July 2019, while the Pacific Games were being held in Samoa, he pretended to be a P.N.G. athlete and asked a driver to drop him off at the P.N.G. house within the Games Village.

He used a fake ID and was wearing P.N.G. sportswear. 

An aggravating feature of the offending was that the defendant created and used a fake ID and wore P.N.G. sportswear to get in the Games village. 

The offending reflected poorly on Samoa as the host country, the Court was told.

“It damages our reputation to foreigners and devalues the good work that the whole country contributed to making the games a success,” said Justice Tafaoimalo. 

The 17-year-old lives at home with his parents. 

He completed school at Year 11 and had a few jobs. 

By Matai'a Lanuola Tusani T - Ah Tong 23 August 2019, 6:00PM

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