Court laments failure, sentencing deferred
A Samoan and a New Zealander, whose decision to sell rental cars landed them in jail, will be sentenced tomorrow. The sentencing of Vaioleti Stowers and Grant Newman Holland was scheduled for yesterday.
However, the prosecution’s failure to provide a written submission to Court in time meant Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Aitken could not proceed.
Yesterday, Justice Aitken expressed concerns with the Office of the Attorney General, for the delay in submitting its final submission against Stowers and Holland.
Justice Aitken received the prosecution’s submission an hour before sentencing the defendants, and said she could not read through the long document in time.
“I have raised this so many times, if you go to the trouble of writing submissions, then make a point to submit them, but not an hour before sentencing,” said Justice Aitken.
Lucy Sio appeared on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office and apologised to the Court for the delay.
Justice Aitken also asked for Stowers’ previous convictions record, however the prosecution failed to provide them, informing the Court that they brought the wrong file and apologising again.
“My apologies your honour, I have brought a different file instead of the defendant’s previous conviction file,” said Ms. Sio.
Justice Aitken was concerned about this failure by the A.G’s Office and adjourned the matter to 10am Friday for sentencing, to give her time to consider the submission properly.
Stowers’ lawyer Rosella Papalii agreed with the adjournment as she was not in a position to make any submissions in regards to her client, because the submission was also served late to her yesterday morning.
Stowers pleaded guilty to six charges of theft on 12 November, 2015, and Holland was found guilty on all charges on 24 November, 2015.
Holland asked the Court for a one-week adjournment so he could contact his lawyer, who is in Samoa.
“There is no record of any lawyer during the trial but you have to provide proper documents to prove this lawyer,” said Justice Aitken.
He said he just learned that his lawyer is operating under a different name.
Justice Aitken said it was an unusual practice but he needed to provide proper information, and if so, he needed to bring his lawyer on Friday, or else he would have to represent himself again.
Both defendants were involved in renting six cars from two car rental companies early this year.
They sold the cars to various buyers, including police officers.