Man jailed for raping woman living with disability

A 55-year-old man who raped a young woman with a disability has been sentenced to eight years in jail. 

Lupematasila Tai Toloi of Siufaga Falelatai is currently serving time for a separate sexual incident involving the victim’s younger sister. 

He was sentenced by Supreme Court Justice Tafaoimalo Leilani Tuala-Warren on Friday. 

Lupematasila appeared for sentencing on one count of rape, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. He was found guilty by assessors in February 2020.

According to evidence tendered in court, the victim was 19-years-old at the time of the incident and suffers from a form of developmental disability.  

The accused is a good friend of the victim’s father who often goes to the victim’s home almost every day of the week, before they take fishing trips together. 

“On or about 21 August 2017, the accused went to the victim’s home. Her parents were away at a funeral,” the sentencing remarks said. 

“It was then that the accused forced himself onto the victim and raped her  

“When her parents arrived home, the victim was crying. [According to] the pre-sentence report, the accused is 55 years old, single and has four children. 

“He is currently serving a custodial sentence [since April 2018] for sexual offending against the victim’s sister.”

The defendant maintains his innocence. 

The victim impact report said that the victim is now 21 years old and that she will not forget what happened to her and has been offered no apology by the accused.

“The victim stopped going to school in Year 6. According to her mother, the victim’s difficulties are that she would lose her temper badly and that she may [...] repeat herself,” the court was told. 

The court heard an aggravating factor in sentencing was that the victim was particularly vulnerable, a fact of which the accused was acutely aware. 

There is also a 33-year age gap between the accused and the victim.

Justice Tafaoimalo says that 11 years imprisonment is the starting point for a sentence of such a crime. 

“There will be no uplift for the aggravating feature relating to the offender as he is currently serving a term for imprisonment for sexual offences against the victim’s younger sister,” the court was told. 

“I deduct [two] years for his [village] banishment and [one] year for his personal circumstances. 

“There will be no deduction for remorse as he maintains his innocence and the embarrassment he feels is because he got caught.” 

The accused was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment, to be served concurrently with his current term of imprisonment starting on Tuesday. 

The Supreme Court Justice also ordered permanently suppressing or prohibition of the publication of the name of the victim and any details that might identify her. 

The suppression order did not apply to the defendant. 

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