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Man steals from Australian diplomat, goes on shopping spree

A man from Savai’i who stole the wallet of the Australian High Commissioner, before going on a shopping spree with the stolen cash, will be sentenced in October. 

The theft of the wallet belonging to High Commissioner, Sara Moriarity, is alleged to have taken place in mid-February of this year. 

Ms. Moriarty was attending a celebration for the birthday of the Emperor of Japan, His Majesty Naruhito’s birthday at Taumeasina Island Resort.

The 32-year-old defendant, Nifae Mataia, is from Satupaitea, Savai’i. He pleaded guilty to the offence later that month. 

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malilelegaoi, the Head of State, His Highness Tuimaleali’ifano Vaaletoa Sualauvi II, and Masiofo Faamausili Leinafo were among the dignitaries at the event.

It was the first birthday celebration since Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne. The party was hosted by the Japan Embassy and Japan’s Ambassador to Samoa, Genichi Terasawa.

Ms. Moriarty’s handbag was placed below her chair during the birthday formalities.

That's where Mataia took the wallet from her handbag.

The defendant went into the bathroom with the wallet and removed Samoan tala and U.S. currency - all the cash from the High Commissioner’s wallet, an amount totalling to $450 Samoan tala. 

The day after the birthday party, Mataia went on a shopping spree and took a ferry to Savai’i with items he purchased with the High Commissioner's money.

Authorities were able to track the defendant down after they reviewed video footage from Taumeasina Island Resort.

The Police in Tuasivi were contacted after Mataia was identified. 

The accused works for the Land, Transport Authority in Savai’i. He will be sentenced on 28 October 2020.

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