Man gets 8 years for rape; Judge decries delay in investigations

A man of Vaitele and Savaia Lefaga who raped a 13-year-old boy has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

Presiding Supreme Court Justice Vui Clarence Nelson also put the Commissioner of Police on notice on the need for Police to give priority to investigations into crimes involving children.

Justice Vui said the defendant has pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual connection with the then 13-year-old complainant on two different dates.  

“Although having reviewed the Police summary of facts, it seems to me the appropriate charge in relation to at least the second incident and possibly the first as well would have been one of rape,” he said.

“That seems to be the more appropriate description of what occurred. The problem may lie in the fact that the definition of rape under our present law does not include forced anal intercourse by one male upon another. 

And that may be why the defendant has been charged with the lesser offence of unlawful sexual connection.” 

The Police summary of facts state that the defendant is a 25-year-old male of Savaia Lefaga, he is single and said to be unemployed, but the pre-sentence report indicated that he was working at Bruno's Circus at the time of these incidents. 

The police report says that in the first incident Filipo took the victim into a bushy area and kissed him and had sex with the victim. 

“Afterwards the defendant warned the victim not to tell his mother what happened. And the complainant went home and it appears from what is before the court he did not tell anyone about the matter.” 

Justice Vui said if the Police summary of facts is correct and the matter was reported to the Faleata Police on the 6th of June 2019, he was at a loss to understand why the Police took seven months to question the defendant. 

He said complaints of a sexual nature involving a possible sexual assault on a 13-year-old should be accorded the same priority as a homicide or a conspiracy to commit a homicide. 

“I am accordingly sending a copy of these sentencing remarks directly to the Commissioner of Police for his review of this case so that some light can be shed on this issue.” 

Justice Vui noted the defendant should be held accountable for his actions and the harm he has done to the community, as well as to the complainant who stated in his victim impact report that he did not know the defendant. 

“[The victim] said he was lured by the defendant into the ‘togavao’ or bushy area where these actions took place. And he was afraid to tell anyone because of the defendants threats. 

“There is no doubting how intimidating and fearful a 13-year-old can be when threatened by a mature male over 10 years older than him.  

“The defendant's sentence must also denounce his conduct as completely unacceptable to the community and must serve to deter the defendant himself from this kind of behaviour.  

“As well as anyone else foolish enough to even contemplate sexually assaulting vulnerable young boys.” 

Justice Vui said the reality for offenders like the defendant, notwithstanding the horrible things they do, will one day have to be released back into the community. 

“And if the causes of offending are not addressed the likelihood of repeat behaviour is high. One thing is for certain, the defendants crimes are of such seriousness that he must be enrolled upon release on the Sex Offenders Registry, so that the chances of him hurting anyone else in the future is to the extent possible minimised if not eliminated.” 

The defendant was sentenced to eight years imprisonment with Justice Vui also ordering a  permanent suppression on the identity of the victim. 

“The suppression order already made in respect of suppression of publication of the name and other details of the victim will be made permanent,” Justice Vui ruled. 

“This suppression order extends to any form of communication utilising all social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc.

“And as a final order that you be enrolled upon release from prison on completion of your sentence in the Sex Offenders Registry, and that the normal mechanisms applicable thereunder will apply to you.” 

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